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Lucky You (2007)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Genres:
Drama, Romantic Drama, Sports Drama
Director:
Curtis Hanson Curtis Hanson
Starring:
Phyllis Somerville Phyllis Somerville
Eric Bana Eric Bana
Horatio Sanz Horatio Sanz
Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore
Joey Kern Joey Kern

5.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 17, 2007
Can you remember seeing trailers for "Lucky You" back in early 2006? I can, and I remember each and every time that date was pushed back, further and further. Why? Did the studio have that little faith in the man brilliant director who brought them mainstream hits like "L.A. Confidential", "8 Mile" and "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle", not to mention the critically lauded "Wonder Boys" and "In Her Shoes"? Curtis Hanson is one of the finest directors working today and has been for a while, though is still somewhat underrated. Warner Brothers kept side-stepping a release for this film and finally dumped it the same weekend as "Spider-Man 3", knowing it would flop. Why couldn't they have given it a January or September release? Sure, those are dump months, but those are great times to release films you're not sure about. That's how films like "White Noise" and "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" can open to strong numbers, because of the limited market. This is all frustrating because "Lucky You" deserved so much better than this. As a poker junkie, I have been enthused about this film since I first heard about the premise and the director. I have been anxiously awaiting its release only to have it flushed down into the cinemas up against one of the most formidable films of the year. I predicted disaster, and my prediction was absolutely correct.

This film is about poker, and its affect on hardcore gamblers like Huck Cheever (Eric Bana), who will do anything it takes to play, whether that be borrow money from friends, steal from friends or even pawn priceless family heirlooms - anything but take it from his poker legend father, L.C. (Robert Duvall), the two-time World Series of Poker champion. Early on, Huck meets Billie (Drew Barrymore), who has just moved to Las Vegas to live with her sister (Debra Messing) and who immediately strikes his fancy in a way that no other girl has. Alas, Huck does just about everything terrible you could imagine to her, including stealing money from her purse and then trying to pass it off as 'borrowing'. Most of the film deals with Huck trying to raise the $10,000.00 stake money for the World Series of Poker. He actually raises the money several times, but then his own fierce gambling habits take over and he ends up losing it, primarily to his father. So, he is constantly making money and losing it - making it and losing it. We know early on that he is a very good player and would be a great player if he could stop his emotions from entering into his decision making processes. The climax of the film finds father and son at the final table at the World Series of Poker, doing battle against one another and a hand full of colorful poker characters.

A sweeter love song to the game of poker has yet to be seen. "Rounders" made you want to smack anyone who thought about playing poker. "Lucky You" has a sweetness to it that makes the game seem so much more mythical and so much more beautiful. We can see what the game is doing to Huck, yet we somehow see what draws him to it. Throughout the film, we see numerous poker champions pop up: Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Sam Farha, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harman, Johnny Chan and Mike Matusow - just to name a few. Director Curtis Hanson manages to capture the magic of Las Vegas and the magic of the game, even though both are backdrops for a lot of disappointment and grief at the hands of the major characters. The opening scene is just amazing, with Bana's character trying to convince the owner of a pawn shop that he should get far more for a digital camera that she thinks he should get. It's brilliant. There is another equally amazing scene where father and son are seated at a diner, playing a game, and we watch as Huck just can't seem to quit, even when he's down and obviously beaten. There is also a lot of talk about a ring that is passed between Huck and L.C. and its meaning to both of them. Duvall has an stellar scene towards the end of the film, with his son in the bathroom, that just broke my heart and made me realize why Duvall is one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema.

Why didn't this film get better treatment from Warner Brothers? Shame on them. Shame on them for not better capitalizing on the current poker craze. Shame on them for assembling such a fine motion picture and then tossing it aside like an old newspaper. Robert Downey, Jr. pops up in a small cameo as a friend of Huck, and it is hysterical. Jean Smart has a small role as a poker player in the World Series, Charles Martin Smith as a wealthy, somewhat shady, backer, and Horatio Sanz is all over the place with his few minutes of comedic relief. Robert Duvall is amazing, as always, and brings real life to a character he is perfect to play. Drew Barrymore gives one of her most enjoyable performances in ages, and manages to seem both convincing and sincere. And who can't admire Eric Bana for his performance, absolutely giving everything he has to the role and totally making us fall in love with the underachiever. Director Curtis Hanson has always been great at extracting really great performances from really great actors and this film is not exception. It has the surface of a romantic comedy, but it's so much more than that. It's a film about life.

Even though it's probably too late, I thoroughly recommend "Lucky You" to each and every one of you. It made my week. It's rare when I go into a 'romantic comedy' and walk out having fallen in love with it. "I.Q." is an example of that. But, "Lucky You" is also a drama, a comedy and a sports film. It shows how internet players and the advancement of technology are re-shaping the way the game is played. It shows how poker players have become poker celebrities. "Lucky You" exposes all of that and still manages to throw in a very real story about a flawed man who just wants to make his way in the world. I want to talk to the executives at Warner Brothers and get some explanation as to why this film was mistreated so badly. I want reasoning for it. I don't get it. Typically, bad films are shuffled around and tossed about - not good ones. With a cast and director like this, all it needed was a little better marketing and a better release date and it would have done fine. Instead, they crapped on it and it flopped. Shame on them. "Lucky You" is one of my absolute favorite films of 2007, and the best 'romantic comedy' I have seen in a very, very long time.

9.5/10.
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