Movie Review: Lucky! (redux)

The (redux) is because out of the dozen or so movie reviews I have bothered to throw up on the site over the years (I assure you the preceding wordplay is totally intentional), there was another movie titled Lucky. It’s not that I seek out movies with that title or anything, I just happened to be intrigued by the cover synopsis on each of them and decided to give them a shot.

This particular Lucky was released in 2011 and has a fairly impressive (depressive?) 23% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes. I didn’t actually know that at the time, but I would have been more eager to watch it if I had simply because I like to watch movies the critics pan and generally enjoy them despite -or possibly because- they are so hated. In the case of this particular movie I can definitely understand that rating; I would probably rate it right around a 1.1 out of 10 if I were into using arbitrary numbering systems to gauge my enjoyment of cinema -which I’m not (although it does make more sense than the one goose head and three rabbit paws out of a possible seven goats and two sheep rating I had in mind).

This movie, with its current soundtrack and editing, is hardly worth watching. It is an interesting enough concept to rope you in, but it is so terribly executed in every way that it is very disappointing to actually watch. Yet I continued to watch, hoping that perhaps things would improve as the story moved along. Things did not improve. I really can’t give any detail without spoiling what little plot they decided to use so, before I move on to the spoilers, my recommendation is to watch it if you’re bored and have some imagination just to marvel at how poorly they executed what could have been a brilliant movie. If, on the other hand, you aren’t into watching shitty movies just to pick them apart for how good they could have been, probably best to stay away.

To the spoilers!

The story is supposed to be this: A serial killer wins the lottery and uses his new found fortune to win over the love of his life. When she discovers his secret, plot ensues. Unfortunately that is not at all what happens. To digress for a moment, movies (tv shows, plays, books, anything fictional really) are absolutely reliant on your ability to suspend disbelief for the duration. My inability to do so really cripples my movie-going experience. Once I have seen an actor in a couple of films I can no longer suspend my disbelief. So, for instance, I know that I won’t be able to see any movie with Nicolas Cage in it as anything other than Nicolas Cage pretending to be the character. I can’t believe any of the situations, can’t sympathize with the character, it’s all just people acting. If I watch the same movie with people I’ve never heard of, I can enjoy the movie and sympathize with the characters because I don’t know them as that punk Charlie Bodell from Peggy Sue Got Married. That is more a reflection of me than of their abilities though, and just used to illustrate the point: If you can’t suspend your disbelief, you won’t enjoy the movie.

In the case of Lucky, I was watching two lead actors that had left so little impression on me that, until I just looked them up, I had no idea this wasn’t their first movie. I was totally prepared to believe, but the movie fucked me out of that possibility within the first two minutes. You see, the serial killer doesn’t buy the lottery ticket, one of his victims does. Now if that person had bought the lottery ticket at a store that didn’t have a camera facing the register (if such a place still exists), I could reasonably assume that he would be able to cash it in without much hassle. Unfortunately, the place she bought the ticket has time-stamped video of every register transaction -and the girl who bought the ticket is dead before the lottery is drawn. Now I don’t claim to know a great deal about state-run lottery systems, but I will guarantee you that before any state goes to paying out 36 million dollar jackpots they are going to verify where the ticket was purchased and do their best to verify who purchased it -and I DO know that the lottery knows exactly what location sold the ticket and the precise time it was sold. And even if the lottery wasn’t verifying this information, certainly the retailer would be for the purposes of advertising that the winning ticket was sold there. The movie tells you straight away that this video exists -hell, it is being used by what can only be a mentally incompetent detective that can’t seem to put the pieces together when it’s a woman buying the ticket but a man cashing it. So really the movie lost me right there. It’s the same type of thing that takes me completely out of all the tv crime dramas, C.S.I. for example, where they find a spot of black powder on the taillight of a 2002 Honda, then parlay that into an airtight case against the pizza delivery guy who made a delivery next door to the owner of that car four days ago. It’s such utter bullshit that I just can’t watch it. But in the case of Lucky, I soldiered on.

That digression aside, this movie really had potential. The main problem is that it doesn’t seem like they were entirely sure if they wanted to make a black comedy or a nail-biting, horror/thriller. The acting was really quite good, especially in the case of the female lead, Lucy St. Marten (ari Graynor). She actually looked quite pretty in the beginning, in kind of a girl-next-door way, and had a slightly too upbeat, mall girl demeanor. By the end of the movie she really looked defeated, with any hint of beauty destroyed, and she was quite believably going a bit crazy. But that progression from mall girl to mental patient was done with a musical score that seemed to completely randomly switch between ominous and outtakes from Killer Clowns from Outer Space. I really think that just a bit of editing (and I mean cutting room stuff that that could be done now) and changing the score to embrace either the ominous or the campy and they could have come up with a good black comedy or a great horror/suspense film. Instead you get a bunch of horrible events (theoretically, since nearly all of the actual killing takes place off screen) taking place that are extremely difficult to take seriously because of the music, but just a bit too terrible to find humor in.

Oh yeah, the movie. So some serial killer dude wins the lottery. When Lucy, his gradeschool crush, finds out about it, she throws herself at him -despite treating him like the scum of the earth for twenty years prior. They say money can’t buy love, but in this case it certainly can buy sex and marriage and that’s practically the same thing. When Lucy first finds out her new husband’s secret (when she witnesses him murdering a maid on their honeymoon), she freaks out only for a few seconds, but then does her wifely duty: she doesn’t tell him about it, but disposes of the body. I will give the movie a bit of credit here for not insulting our intelligence by explaining why (the payout is in annuities, so she has to stay with him to get the checks). She later finds a few more of his victims buried at his house, and takes it upon herself to move the bodies to their new house (no idea why. I thought she was trying to find them less likely to be found. Dumb bitch), but she starts going a little bit crazy from the stress of it all. So when the bodies are discovered at the end of the movie, her DNA is all over them. Of course she is the one that goes to jail for it, while he walks away. He does still come to visit the now apparently schizophrenic woman in jail though. And that’s about it.

This movie was just so disappointing for how poorly they handled everything. Every step of the way I found myself thinking “why the hell did they do that”, but there was never a time when subsequent events justified previous actions. When the credits rolled I really hated myself for sticking through it that long thinking that eventually something had to pay off when I knew that it probably wasn’t going to. I don’t know that I’ve ever used the phrase “Sucked out loud”, but it certainly seems fitting for this film in its current state.

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