A pop-froth spin on Cinderella, the Manhattan-set "Just My Luck" has the feel of a contemporary screwball romance, if not the crackling one-liners of classic screwball. But Lindsay Lohan and Chris Pine make a charming star-crossed couple, and tweens and teens will find enough plot reversals to keep them hooked. Upping the ante for the MySpace crowd is the involvement of boy band McFly.
The zingy script by I. Marlene King and Amy B. Harris adds a gender twist to its fairy tale: She's a princess, he cleans toilets. The aptly named Ashley Albright (Lohan), an impossibly poised employee of a high-powered PR firm, has the Midas touch; She's used to the world falling at her feet. For bowling alley janitor Jake Hardin (Pine), on the other hand, everything he touches turns to crap. In other words, they're destined to meet and fall in love.
Their paths cross at -- where else? -- a masked ball. It's a party that Ashley has put together for a client, Downtown Masquerade Records impresario Damon Phillips (the underused Faizon Love), to the career-boosting approval of her "dragon lady" boss (the equally underused Missi Pyle). But just as Ashley's extraordinary good luck is enjoying a megadose of B12, she dances with a stranger and everything changes. Her mystery dream date, Jake, has sneaked into the bash posing as a dancer to get to label honcho Phillips, a last-ditch effort for the aspiring Brit pop-rock quartet he manages (McFly, playing themselves). Jake gets his chance, and the city's closed doors start swinging open.
Ashley, meanwhile, goes from perfectly coiffed fast-track cutie to unemployed, homeless mess with an arrest record, having inadvertently procured a male escort (Carlos Ponce) for her boss. With the help of a fortune teller (Tovah Feldshuh), Ashley figures out that she and her dance partner exchanged luck -- her good fortune for his lack thereof -- when they kissed. Thus ensues a breezy sequence in which she scoots around town, with friends Maggie (Samaire Armstrong) and Dana (Bree Turner) in tow, kissing a bunch of professional dancers to find the guy who stole her luck.
When she and Jake do meet again, not recognizing each other, she's a wreck and he's living the good life, his band preparing for its first proper New York gig. With the compassion of someone who used to be a hapless klutz, too, he gets her his old job at the lanes and eagerly shares his hard-earned safety tips.
In this transition role from high school to working-world romantic lead, Lohan, at only 19, convincingly plays a young woman beginning her career. With her comic flair, she brings off Ashley's indomitable cosmopolitan polish and her profound dishevelment, while Pine lends her love interest a real-guy likability.
Journeyman direction by Donald Petrie lets the twists of fate unwind at a fair clip, but with certain stretches lacking the necessary punch, the proceedings could be trimmer. Production designer Ray Kluga and costumer Gary Jones contribute exuberant work to the production, shot by vet DP Dean Semler in Manhattan and pre-Katrina New Orleans.
JUST MY LUCK
20th Century Fox
Regency Enterprises presents a New Regency/Cheyenne Enterprises production
Director: Donald Petrie
Screenwriters: I. Marlene King, Amy B. Harris
Story by: Jonathan Bernstein, Mark Blackwell, James Greer
Executive producer: Joe Caracciolo Jr.
Director of photography: Dean Semler
Production designer: Ray Kluga
Music: Teddy Castellucci
Co-producers: Ellen H. Schwartz, Marjorie Shik
Costume designer: Gary Jones
Editor: Debra Neil-Fisher
Ashley Albright: Lindsay Lohan
Jake Hardin: Chris Pine
Maggie: Samaire Armstrong
Dana: Bree Turner
Damon Phillips: Faizon Love
Peggy Braden: Missi Pyle
Katy: Makenzie Vega
Antonio: Carlos Ponce
Themselves: McFly (Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones, Harry Judd, Dougie Poynter)
Madame Z: Tovah Feldshuh
MPAA rating PG-13
Running time -- 102 minutes
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