"Distasteful Comedy of Errors"
What You Need To Know:
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
(PaPaPa, Ab, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, DD, MM) Pagan worldview where conceited criminals find their big scam turns into comedy of errors & top criminal gets away with his crime, plus church member wants to open an adult book store & says he believes masturbation is a gift from God; 84 mostly strong obscenities & 26 profanities including several strong ones; medium violence such as woman lets man with asthma suffocate to death, implied fatal beating, men dump corpse off bridge, man breaks another man’s legs with baseball bat, car crashes into building, fatal shooting, & threats of violence; implied adultery, depicted fornication, implied fornication, & references to masturbation; obscured rear nudity & women dance in revealing bras & panties in strip club; alcohol use; smoking & marijuana use; and, people rig state lottery, blackmail, revenge, murder, & laziness.
LUCKY NUMBERS plays like an advertisement against the self-esteem movement.
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.