"Good Company Redeems Bad Character"
LUCKY YOU, a romantic drama with comedy, opens like gangbusters with perhaps the best-written scene of the year so far. Huck Cheever, an inveterate, professional poker player in Las Vegas, is trying to convince a female pawnbroker into giving him more than $100 for a digital camera in a box. He entertains the pawnbroker so much with his salesmanship that she relents and gives him $200 for it. She also agrees to give him $150 for his mother’s silver wedding ring, which Huck plans on buying back after winning at poker.
Huck is very good at playing poker and is usually able to win more often than he loses, but he also often loses his winnings by risking them too often in big bets at the poker table. As his estranged father, L.C., a two-time winner of the World Series of Texas Hold ‘Em, says, “You play poker like you should live life, and live life like you should play poker.” In other words, play poker more prudently, his father advises, but take more risks in your personal life.
The same night that Huck pawns the camera and ring and loses the poker winnings he builds up, he meets Billie, the younger sister of an old girlfriend who’s just arrived in Vegas from California. Later, he’s able to convince Billie to let him use her Traveler’s checks to play poker. He starts winning and returns her money, with some interest. When she leaves the table to go home, however, he loses the other winnings he accumulated.
More plot twists follow. Huck abuses Billie’s friendship a couple times, she forgives him a couple times. Finally, in the drama surrounding a final showdown at the World Championship of Texas Hold ‘Em, Huck and his father gingerly reconcile with one another.
Despite his gambling profession, Huck learns a few moral lessons from his encounters with Billie and his wandering father. The movie’s positive moral premise seems to be that the good company of the love interest, Billie, redeems and transforms the bad character of the protagonist, Huck. This premise indirectly echoes the premise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which tells us, in part, that the Good Company or Good Character of Jesus Christ, including His death on the Cross, redeems and transforms our sinful natures when we believe in Christ’s Gospel.
LUCKY YOU is not a religious movie or a Christian movie, however, despite its positive moral, lightly redemptive elements. Also, in spite of the movie’s well-written dialogue and great opening, the climactic drama and resolution in the third act is a bit of a letdown, especially the resolution during and after the big poker game. Finally, although Eric Bana and Robert Duvall are excellent as Huck and his father, Drew Barrymore does not have the dramatic acting chops to give the necessary depth to make her character stand on an equal par. She’s not terrible, she probably just needs to take more lessons in dramatic acting if she’s going to play deeper dramatic roles like this one. Thus, what should be a four-star movie becomes only a three-star movie.
In addition to its moral premise, LUCKY YOU has much less foul language than the typical PG-13 movie. In fact, it plays more like an M rated (for Mature) or PG movie from the mid to late 1960s, just before Hollywood added the R rating and long before the PG-13 rating was created. The light amount of foul language was an extremely pleasant surprise for a movie of this kind and this rating. The movie also implies, however, that Huck and Billie have intercourse, but the movie only depicts some light kissing. This also is something that could be seen in some movies during those halcyon days of the 60s. We commend the filmmakers for applying such a light touch to such objectionable elements. Even so, we must give the movie a caution, advising moviegoers the same. It also should be noted that, although the movie mocks and attacks some forms of compulsive gambling, the movie doesn’t see gambling as an inherent moral problem.
(Pa, B, C, L, V, S, M) Light mixed pagan worldview with immoral elements and questionable elements but a moral premise with a light redemptive quality and other positive moral elements overcome some immoral elements, including reconciliation between a father and a son; six obscenities and one strong profanity; light violence in one scene when two men throw man sitting in lounge chair into a pool that has been partially filled with some dirt and tell man he has 24 hours to choose to do one of two things; light implied sexual content when sex is implied between unmarried heterosexual couple in two shots; no nudity but minor male character has temporary breast implants as part of a bizarre bet (the effects of the implants are clearly shown in outline under his shirts but shirts are not see-through); alcohol use; smoking; and, gambling and playing poker not rebuked though some compulsive gambling is mocked for laughs and attacked for being self-destructive at times, minor male character has temporary breast implants as part of a bizarre bet, father and son have a troubled relationship that is cleared up at the end, lying, and stealing ultimately rebuked.
LUCKY YOU stars Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall in a light drama with comical tones about a compulsive professional poker player in Las Vegas named Huck. Huck is usually able to win more often than he loses, but he often loses his winnings by risking them in big bets. Such losses mean he steals money from Billie, the new girl with whom he has become romantically involved. Huck abuses their relationship several times, Billie forgives him several times. Finally, in the drama surrounding a final showdown at the major poker tournament, Huck and his estranged father gingerly reconcile with one another.
LUCKY YOU has a great opening scene. It is very entertaining and well-written. The third act is too flat, however, for what could have been a four-star movie. Also, Drew Barrymore does not have the dramatic acting chops to maker her character more interesting. Despite the poker gambling and some light sexual references, LUCKY YOU only has minimal foul language. Also, the morally challenged protagonist learns some moral lessons in the movie's moral premise, which teaches that good company can redeem bad character. Overall, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution.