Published May 04, 2007Director Curtis Hanson is much like the erratic gambler at the centre of his latest film. After displaying his exceptional skills with L.A. Confidential, Hanson began blasting away his chips on gambits like 8 Mile and In Her Shoes. This steady decline culminates with Lucky You, a high-stakes Texas HoldEm romance thats deficient of any heart, unless of course you count the ones on the flop, the turn and the river. (If you didnt understand that last bit of lingo this poker-verbose flick certainly isnt for you.)
The film stars Eric Bana as compulsive Vegas gambler Huck Cheever, whose knack for reading beyond the most concrete poker faces is offset by his inability to divorce bets from emotions. This problem gets particularly out of hand when Huck is at the tables against his poker legend father, L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall), with whom he has some unrequited issues. Enter Hucks lucky charm, Billie (Drew Barrymore), a hopeful songstress with a keen eye to end the gamblers losing streak with women. However, her success depends on whether Huck or the director, for that matter can leave the tables long enough to give the relationship the slightest bit of attention.
The bland romance at the films centre with what spare moments its afforded during the Poker World Series amounts to nothing more than Drew Barrymore doing a wrinkled rendition of her childish flirtations. Her character is so irrelevant that she disappears from a diner scene for a prolonged period of time and no one questions her absence upon her return. This is only possible because all the attention is fixated on the slightly more engaging father-son duel. Robert Duvall lends the film some gravitas, with his deep, raspy voice and hawkish smile, building on the tension between Huck and L.C. However, this hostility is only sustained long enough to arrive at the next round of gambling then finds an exit resolve near the end thats more convenient than developed.
Whats not convenient here is the films timing. Hansons long-delayed project was green lit when the Texas Holdem fad was at a fever pitch. Unfortunately, it arrives about two years too late, when most die-hard poker fans the target market, in this case are now mostly too tired and broke to indulge in a faded memory. Hanson should stop playing his luck because its his audience that will fold with flops like Lucky You. (Warner)