Bad Luck! 

This poker movie will have you wanting to abandon the game early

A couple of years ago, celebrity poker tournaments managed to get some interest on cable channels; in turn, that has kicked up some interest for poker movies. Hollywood tries to cash in on that nutty poker craze with Lucky You, a torturously bad, ill-conceived card movie that turned my stoic poker face into a full-on pained grimace.

Eric Bana stars as Huck Cheever, a total idiot hotshot card player with bad hair and bad taste in leather jackets. The film opens with an interesting enough scene as Bana haggles with a pawnshop owner, but things slowly go downhill when he enters a casino. The film really bottoms out and stays there when Drew Barrymore--a decent enough comic actress, but someone who's lacking in the dramatic department--shows up and drawls her lines. She plays Billie Offer (What's with these stupid names?), a mopey casino singer who is stupid enough to still hang around with Huck after he steals her money. I always questioned Barrymore's acting abilities, and this film doesn't do much for the argument that she's any good. Start campaigning for your next Adam Sandler reunion, Drew.

Huck and Billie conduct a boring relationship with the World Series of Poker as the backdrop. He is looking to buy himself a seat in the tournament in order to best his poker nemesis, and father, L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall). This sets the table for a bunch of preliminary matches where Bana's Huck whines at Daddy for his lousy parenting skills. I have no doubt that any man pissing and moaning about his daddy during a high-stakes poker match would get doused by a fellow player's drink. Not once does any player in this film tell the two grousers to shut the hell up. They just look bemused, as if to say, "Those crazy kids!" Then they keep on playing.

As for Drew Barrymore's singing ... yeesh! I hereby issue an apology to Kirsten Dunst for my comments about her warbling in Spider-Man 3, because Barrymore is far worse. My friend had a big, sweet dog that would yowl in the corner, just for the hell of it, and that dog could carry a tune far better.

Watching Barrymore put her heart and soul into some casino cabaret standards made me want to exit the theater in a dead sprint, blasting by the dude taking tickets so fast that he'd shout, "Damn, that there movie critic sure has a bee in his bonnet! Must've been the Barrymore singing. Seems to have that effect on the local folk." (For some reason, I picture the ticket taker as an old prospector.)

As for the card games, I suppose showing a poker match as they're usually conducted (read: semi silently without family feuds) would've been a bit stagnant. Still, having the Bana character air out his daddy issues in between checks and calls is preposterous.

The film is directed by the normally reliable Curtis Hanson, who can't win with his two stars generating zero chemistry. Casting somebody other than Barrymore probably would've been prudent, but that wouldn't have saved us the tedium of watching Duvall and Bana grouse during card games.

Lucky You could've been helped by somebody like actor/card-shark David Cross getting cast and bringing some life to the party. Cross kicked unholy ass during one of those celebrity poker tournament programs, and this movie is severely in need of his kind of witty banter. As it stands, Cross will be co-starring in another poker film, The Grand, which just screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. Hopefully, it will be better than this turkey.

Lucky You
Rated NR

More by Bob Grimm

  • Bohemian Rhapsody: Too Much BS

    • Nov 12, 2018
  • A Celebration of Cinema

    The Loft Film Fest features groundbreaking indie films, old classics and everything in between, along with special guests and even a Calexico Concert.
    • Nov 8, 2018
  • Wheels Up

    Jonah Hill has made the best movie ever about skater culture
    • Nov 1, 2018
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Girl Power

    It takes an Amazon to rescue DC Comic’s lackluster movie universe
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • Ghosts of Christmas

    Charles Dickens wrestles with the spirits of the season
    • Nov 30, 2017

The Range

Three Great Things to Do in Tucson Today: Tuesday, Nov. 13

Bohemian Rhapsody: Too Much BS

More »

Latest in Cinema Feature

  • A Celebration of Cinema

    The Loft Film Fest features groundbreaking indie films, old classics and everything in between, along with special guests and even a Calexico Concert.
    • Nov 8, 2018
  • The Owners of the Forest

    Featuring a soundtrack by Tucson’s own Calexico, The Guardians digs into the battle over Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
    • Nov 8, 2018
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Over the Moon

    First Man explores Neil Armstrong’s trials ahead of the Apollo 11 mission
    • Oct 18, 2018
  • Framing the Narrative

    Tucson Salvage goes to the movies
    • Oct 18, 2018
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2018 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation