In Las Vegas, Huck Cheever is a poker player, brilliant but also prone to let emotion take over. It's the week of the poker world series, and Huck must come up with the $10,000 entry fee, which he wins, loses, borrows, and loses - and even steals part of from Billie Offer, an earnest young woman who's new in town and who catches Huck's eye. By the time the tournament starts, Huck owes everyone. Complicating things is the arrival of Huck's father, whom Huck detests for having left his mother, a champion player in town to win. Can Huck learn to play poker the way he lives and to live the way he plays poker? Or is his only flush the sound of his life going down the toilet? Written by
The "Golf Marathon" wager is based on an real-life proposition bet involving professional poker player Huck Seed. Seed actually won the bet. See more »
Just after the players at the final table are introduced, the dealer goes through the motions of "washing" the cards, that is, spreading them out haphazardly over the table, then gathering them up again into a neat stack for shuffling and dealing twice, repeating the gestures between shots without the time required for human hands to make the gestures twice. See more »
After the credits there is a scene where Ready Eddie and Lester (the man with breast implants) argue over whether Lester actually spent an entire month in the bathroom or not. As the current month has thirty-one days and not just thirty. They soon begin to discuss whether the month of August has either thirty or thirty-one days, which soon leads them to a double-or-nothing wager over the fact. See more »
Good movie for Vegas fanatics. Don't know about anyone else
No movie in recent memory has sent me more mixed pre-release signals than Lucky You. The film is directed and co-written by Curtis Hanson, who has made many films I've admired in the past including 8 Mile and L.A. Confidential. The screenplay was also co-written by Eric Roth, the screenwriter of The Insider and Munich. And it features three very likable actors in lead roles, specifically Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, and Robert Duvall. These signs should have filled me with confidence, but there was also the knowledge nagging at me that the film had been sitting on the studio's shelf for almost two years, and had been shuffled through numerous release dates. Now that I've seen the film, I can say that the film is certainly not all bad, but is nowhere near what it should be given the talent both on and behind the camera.
The film is set in the high stakes world of professional gambling in Las Vegas. We follow a man named Huck Cheever (Eric Bana), who could be one of the best players in the game, but he is compulsive and often loses as much as he wins. His estranged father L.C. (Robert Duvall) is also a professional player on the circuit, and it doesn't make things any easier for Huck. While trying to gather the money needed to participate in the World Series Poker Championship, he happens to meet a sweet young newcomer to Vegas named Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore). Billie's a singer at a local bar and knows nothing about gambling, but when she starts to get attached to Huck, she can see the compulsiveness that he cannot. This begins a rocky on-again off-again relationship between the two where Huck will have to determine what is truly important in his life.
Most of the time while I was watching Lucky You, I felt like I was watching an advertisement for the Las Vegas tourism board, or perhaps one of those professional Poker games you sometimes see on TV. That's because the film's narrative is hardly there at all, and a vast majority of the film is devoted to the game itself. The rules are explained early on when Billie sits down with Huck to watch him play in one scene, and then the movie takes off with one game sequence after another. I'm sure there's an audience out there who finds this thrilling, but I personally never got into Poker games, and found my interest somewhat waning as the film went on. To be fair, the film's climactic game at the Championship can be pretty tense at times, but the numerous smaller games that take up the film's two hour plus running time just never build to much. Because the movie is so heavily concentrated on gaming, the story and the characters never come across as interesting as they should be. Huck and Billie never get developed beyond their most basic traits, and never even come across as a couple we can get behind. Huck's seeming inability to listen or reason made me wonder what Billie was thinking each time she hooked back up with him. I suppose this is supposed to be about a love story about two people who never learn. I can certainly see a good movie being made off of that story, but this movie never lets us get close to them, so we don't feel anything whether they are together or apart.
That's not to say the movie is all bad. Lucky You is handsomely shot, and the cinematography by Peter Deming really captures the excitement and thrill of Vegas quite well. And even if the Poker game sequences get somewhat tedious, they are filmed well and manage to keep things moving. There are also some good performances on display. The three main leads are all strong, particularly Eric Bana and Robert Duvall during their scenes together. The father-son relationship they share often felt more genuine than the romance Bana shares with Barrymore. There are also a number of enjoyable supporting roles featuring many of Huck's friends, who are equally compulsive with their gambling. One memorable cameo features Robert Downey Jr as a man who runs multiple 1-900 number services at the same time, as he switches back and forth between a self-run depression helpline and a relationship counseling line. The only problem is that all of these positives are being employed by an emotionally hollow screenplay. The narrative is shaky at best, and we never get to know these characters as much as we feel we should. There is enough drama and ideas here for a compelling romantic comedy-drama, but the film never takes charge. It's too interested in its setting, and not enough in the people who inhabit that setting.
Lucky You is not quite the disaster that should have had its release delayed for so long, but at the same time, I can understand why the studio was somewhat nervous about it. Despite the big names and the romance angle, this movie is really all about professional gambling, and it speaks to a very limited audience. I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I did. With a screenplay that focused more on Huck and Billie, this maybe could have been an interesting story about two people who fall in love, despite the fact they're probably bad for each other. As it is, I often found myself trying to guess which hotel or casino they shot the scene I was watching in, and was thinking back on my own visit to Vegas a couple years ago. The movie brought back some fun memories, but not much else.
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