Barrymore is either playing Billie as the most naïve person on the planet or as someone who, in real life, would be too stupid to function on a normal basis.
Lucky You, co-written by Curtis Hanson and Eric Roth and directed by Hanson, is the latest movie to use high stakes poker as the driving action of the story. The popularity of the game has overtaken entertainment with celebrity poker and competitive poker becoming staples of many cable channels. Unfortunately, Lucky You creates very little in the way of excitement about the game and actually detracts from what little appeal there is.
Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) is a professional poker player in Las Vegas. He is one of the best players in town, but is reckless with his money, willing to sacrifice his pot for the sake of his ego. Huck is trying to win $10,000 to get a seat in the World Series of Poker. Huck's brash behavior and hot head is contrasted by two-time WSP champ L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall) who keeps challenging Huck and winning when Huck loses his cool.
Huck spends the majority of the movie trying to get and hold onto the ten grand he needs to enter the tournament. Along the way, Huck meets Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore) who has come to Las Vegas of all places to become a professional singer. Huck and Billie become close quickly even though it's clear Huck is out to win only for himself.
What's most disappointing about Lucky You is that the creative brainpower and talents that spawned the movie have been behind some of the most entertaining films in recent memory. Roth has been involved in writing inventive and wonderful screenplays such as The Insider, Munich, and The Good Shepherd. He's been nominated for an Oscar several times, winning in 1995 for Forrest Gump. Hanson has directed wonderful movies, from the powerhouse L.A. Confidential to 8 Mile and Wonder Boys. How these two highly respected and capable men agreed Lucky You would be a great project remains a mystery.
Bana smirks his way through the movie whether he is reading another player's tells or convincing Barrymore to give him one more chance. Barrymore is either playing Billie as the most naïve person on the planet or as someone who, in real life, would be too stupid to function on a normal basis. Her "aw, gosh" attitude and surprise at everything that happens is too ridiculous to take seriously.
Duvall does an acceptable job as L.C., being both cocky and knowledgeable at the same time. He brings a reserved air of professionalism and experience that mimics his character, allowing him to steal the majority of his scenes.
Most of the movie is spent finding metaphors that refer to the game of poker, but are actually talking about the characters and their lives. All that can be said is while sometimes a hand looks like a surefire winner you might lose if you underestimate the intelligence of the other players. | Matthew F. Newlin