Lucky Numbers

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

There’s no doubt that John Travolta is a good actor. Some may disagree with me, but you have to admit that he has been in his share of movies that will definately stand the test of time (Grease, Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction are a few that I’m thinking of). Travolta, dubbed many times as “The Comeback Kid”, meaning he has made so many good and then bad movies that he always has to stage a “comeback”; holds true to his form in this newest movie from Director Nora Ephron. Ephron, also a favorite of mine, has penned such classics as “When Harry Met Sally” and Directed “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail”. Ephron is certainly adept at the quirky romantic comedy. Maybe she should have stuck with that this time. What is so annoying about Lucky Numbers is the fact that you don’t really learn (or want to) care about the characters in it. They have no morals whatsoever, they lie, cheat and steal on a daily basis; and that’s not just the main character, either! While Lucky Numbers does feature a good cast, headlined by John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow (who, as a fine actress, does nothing more than her ‘Friends’ schtick here), we do see such familar faces as Tim Roth, Michael Rappaport, Ed O’ Neill (Al Bundy himself) and Bill Pullman. But as we’ve learned about five minutes into the movie, you can have the best cast in the world and still not pull off a good movie, if there’s no substance to your movie (and there isn’t here).

Ok…with that all being said, will you endeavor to read any further? Well, I had to sit through two (four hours with commentary) hours, so humor me…ok? We meet local Pennsylvania weatherman, Russ Richards as he’s hamming it up at his local Denny’s. He has a reserved spot there, complete with the velvet rope. Yes, really. The town is in sort of a heat wave this winter and Russ’ snowmobile dealership is taking a bit of a punch due to it. Served with some papers that says he is broke and owes money, Russ runs to his friend Dick (Ed O’ Neill) to ask for yet another loan. Russ is denied, lectured and is in a dilly of a pickle as to what to do. Cut to local airhead “lotto” girl, Crystal (Lisa Kudrow). It just so happens that Cyrstal and Dick are having themselves a bit of an affair, not that it matters much, but it’s another log in the fire that is Lucky Numbers. As you may have figured out by now, the big “scheme” in Lucky Numbers is that Russ gets together with Crystal and comes up with a way to rig the local lottery. This will solve Russ’ financial problem and Crystal can get her share of the money and be free to do whatever it is that she does (besides look pretty and pick up ping-pong balls from a big plastic bubble). Is it as easy as this? Heck no!

Before we know it, everyone has found out about Russ’ little scheme and everyone wants a bit of the pie. Things spiral down into a fit of chaos and I think I’ll leave a little bit of suspense for you to figure out the end. This is all given away by the trailer, naturally. In conclusion, I guess I’ll have to give Lucky Numbers a viewing some other time. I personally found it to be another cookie-cutter movie, and apparantely I’m not alone in my assessment; as it tanked at the box office last Fall. While the movie does have it’s faults (which I’ve made pretty clear), the DVD is another fine issue from Paramount. I mean how many movies would you like to have in your collection that have a Director’s commentary and a great-looking picture with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound? Blazing Saddles? Caddyshack? Grease? Anyhow, my faith is not lost in these actors. Even good actors make bad movies, and good Directors as well. As for Lucky Numbers, I might advise against it. Of course, if you liked this movie then you’ll have nothing to complain about.

Video: How does it look?

Something that can be said about Lucky Numbers is that it certainly does look good. Paramount, true to their form, has released this movie in a 1.85:1 anamorphic image that looks particularly bright and vivid on DVD. I missed the movie in theaters, but I have to say that more and more these movies are almost looking better at home than in the movieplex. Some scenes tend to have a bit of overexposure to them, giving it a “burnt out” look. Colors are vivid and colorful, particularly in scenes like the lottery drawing. I tell ya…the sparkles on Crystal’s dress just seem to leap out at you! Edge enhancement is at a minimum and I saw no artifacting or digital elements to boot. Another fine DVD transfer from Paramount, as expected.

Audio: How does it sound?

Lucky Numbers, being a new movie, is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Obviously this movie won’t be one to show your friends and say “Look what my audio system can do…”. As a matter of fact, if you show this movie to your friends…they might leave you. Only kidding. Dialogue is clear and clean with no signs of distortion, but you do have to listen to John Travlota occasionally as he tends to trail off. The surround effects were hardly used, but I did catch a few times when they were active. For the most part, it’s a surround mix with action limited to the front speakers. No real complaints here but no real praises either, another nice effort.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Not a “Special Edition”, then again Paramount doesn’t label their discs as Special Editions anyway; Lucky Numbers features a feature-length commentary track by Director Nora Ephron. No, she doesn’t explain exactly what it was she was thinking when she decided to undertake this movie, rather she is very articulate (as she is on the Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail tracks) about the movie. Not a lot more is learned here, but it’s good to see Director’s embrace the benefits of the DVD format. Aside from the commentary is a theatrical trailer shown in non-anamorphic widescreen and some cast and crew interviews. The interviews are another nice touch, with the actors talking about their respective parts. Overall, I didn’t care for the movie, but it’s a nice DVD with enough features to keep you entertained if this movie is your cup of tea. For me, it wasn’t.

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