Distasteful Comedy of Errors
Release Date: October 27, 2000
Starring: John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow,
Tim Roth, & Ed O’Neill
Runtime: 105 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Nora Ephron
Executive Producer: G. Mac Brown
Producer: Andrew Lazar, Jonathan D.
Krane, Sean Daniel, & Nora
Writer: Adam Resnick
Address Comments To:Sherry Lansing
Motion Pictures Group
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow of TV’s FRIENDS play a couple of conceited, stupid fornicating criminals who try to rig the Pennsylvania state lottery. Travolta is TV weatherman Russ Richards whose snowmobile business is not doing too well because of a long warm spell in winter. Finding himself in debt, Russ turns to his friend, Gig (Tim Roth), who runs a strip joint. Gig suggests that Russ hire someone to rob the snowmobile business so he can collect insurance money. When the bungling robbers get nabbed, Gig suggests that Russ rig the state lottery with his girlfriend, Crystal (Kudrow), who happens to be the lottery ball girl at the TV station where Russ works.
Their plan becomes a comedy of errors when Crystal gets her stupid cousin, Walter, to buy the ticket. Of course, Walter, who wants to use part of his $20,000 for his church and part of it to open an adult book store, decides that he wants more money. Crystal and Walter fight, and, when Walter has a terrible asthmatic attack, Crystal deprives him of his inhaler until he suffocates to death. Crystal lies to Russ about what happened, but then two more people learn about their lottery scam, including the dumb but violent thug hired by Gig who tried to rob the snowmobile store Russ owns.
Enter the world’s laziest and dumbest cop, played by Bill Pullman. Officer Lakewood tries hard not to get involved with any possible police action, but finds himself inadvertently in the thick of things, although it becomes doubtful whether he will ever figure out what’s really going on with these clowns.
As she does with Officer Lakewood, director Nora Ephron (SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE) slowly involves the audience in her comedy of errors. The twists and turns in the story eventually do become rather funny, especially after Officer Lakewood enters the picture. The sleazy aspects of the story, which includes plenty of strong foul language and some strong sexual content, overwhelm the movie, however. This is true even though it was fun, in a way, to see most of the criminal characters get their just deserts. Furthermore, although Travolta is usually a very likable on-screen presence, his character remains fairly sleazy, despite the fact that he may be the most likable of the criminal characters. His character also gets away with the lottery crime in the end. Thus, LUCKY NUMBERS ultimately has very few redeeming qualities for viewers to appreciate.
LUCKY NUMBERS ultimately has very few redeeming qualities for viewers to appreciate. Even Travolta’s criminal character is pretty sleazy, although he earns some audience sympathy because his debt problems are not really his fault. The movie also includes plenty of strong foul language and some strong sexual content. Finally, a minor character is a church member who wants to open an adult book store and who has a strange, vulgar theory about sex. LUCKY NUMBERS makes fun of his death when it occurs