Initially, I was hopeful about this movie. After all, it starred Eric Bana of “Munich” fame, and the queen of rom-coms Drew Barrymore. It was directed and co-written by Curtis Hanson, who also gave us the stunning film noir “L.A. Confidential”. And it was set in Las Vegas, a glittery, exciting backdrop if there ever was one. On the other hand, poker may be exciting to play but it’s awfully dull to watch. And the movie sat on the shelf for two years then was tossed out as cannon fodder against “Spiderman 3”. Still, there were all these positives and it opened with a great scene in which Bana’s character sells a digital camera to an “I’ve seen it all before” pawnbroker, who already has three similar cameras. Good character study stuff. “Lucky You” might be promising, after all.
Alas, mixing romance with poker makes for a losing hand.
Huck (!) Cheever is a card shark, never really thinking beyond the next game. He makes his bread and butter playing poker, following in the footsteps of his daddy, played by a hard-nosed Robert Duvall. Huck of course, has daddy issues, and lying between father and son (figuratively speaking) is the long deceased Mrs. Cheever. Her son keeps his mother’s wedding ring in his pocket as a kind of good-luck charm and memento.
It’s not long until the smooth talking Huck meets the sweet lounge singer Billie Offer newly arrived.to Las Vegas. Big sister Suzanne (Debra Messing in a too-small role) warns Billie about Huck’s roving ways to no avail. After a night of romance, Billie is stunned to discover her empty wallet. Apparently Huck wanted her money as much as he wanted her. But what can a man do when the World Series of Poker tournament is in town and there’s a $10,000.00 entry fee? Besides, he’s already stolen and sold his room-mate’s digital camera for gambling money.
Will Billie forgive Huck’s caddish ways or stuff a royal flush down his throat? Does Huck get the cash he needs to enter the Big Game? Will father and son bond or break over the cards? I think we know where to place our bets.
With a running time of 124 minutes, this slow-moving story feels longer than it is. (The dvd contains additional scenes, along with two featurettes.) As a romance, “Lucky You” is hardly high-rolling but it is adequate. That it succeeds at all is due to Eric Bana’s charms and Drew Barrymore’s patented nice girl act, along with a good supporting cast. But poker-playing Eric Bana/Drew Barrymore/Curtis Hanson fans might like to gamble.