Lucky You
These cards tell us to please, God, do NOT make “Charlie’s Angels 3″.

Theatrical Release Date: 05/04/2007
Director: Curtis Hanson
Cast: Eric Bana, Robert Duvall, Drew Barrymore

Hot on the heels of the poker boom in America comes Curtis Hanson’s latest film, “Lucky You”.

A cross between a romance and a look at compulsive gambling, the film attempts to marry the genres and it’s here that I part ways with Hanson and Eric Roth, the screenwriter.

I’m a big fan of poker and watch the World Series every year, along with a few of the other televised tournaments. Every full moon or two, I even play in a home game with some friends.

As such, I was instantly attracted to this film, especially once Eric Bana and Robert Duvall were on board, as I respect both of them immensely as actors.

My faith in them and the filmmakers to get the poker element right was justified. As a poker movie, “Lucky You” is a great tale of the rise of poker from the back room into the mainstream.

So many of the current poker pros had cameos in the film and it was great to spot them all at the tables, whether they had lines or not. Hanson and company were also smart enough to recruit Doyle Brunson as the poker advisor for the film.

It doesn’t get any better than Texas Dolly and to his credit, the poker plays fantastic on the big screen. The drama and the excitement of tournament poker are on full display.

Whereas “Casino Royale” turned it into some comic book version of No Limit Hold ‘Em, “Lucky You” was almost as good as watching the real thing.

However, for some unknown reason, Roth and Hanson had to create a side story about Bana’s love life and brought Drew Barrymore into the mix.

Now, I like Drew. I watch some of her romantic comedies regularly and enjoy her ability to be sweet and endearing. But in this film, she stuck out like a sore thumb.

Nothing about her character felt genuine … from her aspirations as a singer to her character’s motivations to even the notion that she happens to show up in Las Vegas to visit her sister (Debra Messing) right before the World Series Main Event.

Her character is a plot device, pure and simple. She allows Bana’s character to peel away some of his bitterness towards his father (Duvall) and become a better person, blah, blah, blah.

This story arc was so unnecessary. It reminded me of “The Color of Money”, only the side story between Tom Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio there made more sense.

All “Lucky You” needed to do was concentrate on the father-son relationship, the poker, and change it’s title. “Lucky You”? How contrived is that? Good lord, why not “Full Deck” or “All In”? I mean, come on.

And the romantic subplot isn’t even done well. It’d be one thing if it was just an unnecessary addition. It’s another that it sucked. The romance between Bana and Barrymore was bad enough that I think there’s more substance in “She’s All That” or “Whatever It Takes”. That can’t be good.

Whether you’ll enjoy this film comes down to how much you care about poker. If you’re a fan and understand the game, there’s enough here to satisfy your curiosity. If you don’t know whether a full house beats a flush, then just move on … you don’t want any part of this.

I’m giving “Lucky You” a 3 out of 5. It had enough poker related material to keep me interested but the filmmakers could have saved themselves a lot of time and money by dropping anything related to romance … it just didn’t work.