At first glance, Lucky You seems to have been dealt a strong hand. It's got acclaimed director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, In Her Shoes) at the wheel. It has a strong, likeable cast in Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, and Robert Duvall. And its subject—poker—is red hot these days.
But more than the sport and the gambling associated with it, poker is also a strong dramatic device in movies. The Cincinnati Kid, Rounders, Maverick, and even James Bond in Casino Royale were able to mine great suspense out of playing cards. A sideways comment, a nervous glance, and even a pause of silence all add to the tension and drama as we wonder who has the winning hand.
Alas, Lucky You falls considerably short of the mark—not surprising, since the movie was filmed almost two years ago, and has been shelved a few times before finally seeing the light of day. It's not one of the year's worst, but it's not particularly good either.
Most of the blame falls on the story by Eric Roth, who co-wrote the screenplay with Hanson. Most recently, Roth brought us The Good Shepherd, and has offered terrific films like Munich, The Insider, and Forest Gump to name a few. But Lucky You is a muddled mess that doesn't belong on the same resume.
A shame, because the film gets off to a good start in a pawn shop, as Huck Cheever (Bana) attempts to sell some items to the shrewd store owner. It leads to a wonderful exchange with Huck making a case for why his items are worth more money, demonstrating his ability to read other people and play his strengths—spoken like a true marketer … or a professional poker player.
In an all too familiar storyline, Huck is working to build up the cash needed for the entrance fee to play in ...1