The decision to watch Good Luck Chuck was similar to my decision to order a Scorpion Bowl at Trader Vic's: I knew I would look like an idiot, and probably regret it later, but at least I wouldn't be alone in the pain. It was a bad idea, but at least it wasn't my bad idea. In this case it was my wife who innocently suggested the infamous Dane Cook/Jessica Alba disaster, and in her defense she had given birth to a child only one week before. She was obviously not in the right state of mind, but I saw her interest in Good Luck Chuck as an opportunity -- to see how bad the movie is, and also a way to see it without being mad at myself for wanting to watch it (after all, it wasn't me who was interested in it). In the end, despite my wife's strange interest in the movie, we couldn't make it past the 30-minute mark. And if you're questioning the ethics of me reviewing a movie I've only seen 30 minutes of, well -- you haven't seen Good Luck Chuck.
I rarely get angry at movies, and usually find some level of entertainment value in bad movies, but Good Luck Chuck was different: it made $53 million in theaters. This fact helped turn my boredom with the movie into outright hate -- it's no better than a late-night Showtime (not Cinemax) wannabe-skin fest, and had no right being in theaters outside of Cook and Alba's casting. The plot is straight out of soft core porn, functioning as a vehicle for numerous sex scenes that fit (somewhat) within the framework of the story. It even looks like soft core porn from the direction, to the non-jokes and the cast of mostly Playboy rejects. The story (such as it is) concerns Charlie who at an early age had a curse put on him whereupon every woman he dates will marry the next man she meets. As an adult, this leads to gangs of moderately sexy women begging to have sex with Charlie so they can meet their Mr. Right via his curse. You can pretty much write the rest of the script at this point.
More painful than a boring action movie, a plodding drama or a 220-minute documentary is a comedy that is not funny. Not in any way funny. Good Luck Chuck thinks it's a comedy -- but it's a comedy in the same way two pieces of white bread covered in frosting is a birthday cake. There are jokes, but they come at you like firetrucks in a Memorial Day parade: you can hear them coming for miles, can't avoid them when they're near you and make you wish you weren't at a parade. Here's a typical Good Luck Chuck joke, and it comes in a scene where real comedies would want to deliver a heavyweight, when the two main characters meet:
Wedding Guest: How do you know the bride?
Charlie: We used to date.
Cam (entering scene): Me too!
Cam: Oh, well, it was a one-time experiment in college.
In a way, the horrible humor of Good Luck Chuck is its only redeeming quality. I say this because you can tell Dane Cook knows just how bad the jokes are, and there's nothing he can do to save it. In every scene he just looks drained, and has the appearance of someone who's listening to someone tell a joke, and rather than force a laugh, he just gives a wry smile. I'm not a fan of Cook as a stand-up, but having watched parts of his recent performance at Madison Square Garden, it's clear that he has the talent and charisma to command and hold the attention of thousands of people. None of that is utilized here, as Cook is asked to be a bashful, bumbling bachelor.
Good Luck Chuck fails at producing laughs, but it succeeds in making you feel very uncomfortable. In the early scene where we see an 11-year-old Charlie at a birthday party, he's put in a closet with a Goth girl who pretty much tries to jump his bones -- which would be fine if the characters weren't in middle school. This uncomfortable feeling continues through the movie, in scenes such as a too-long montage of Charlie having sex with woman after woman (there's only so much Dane Cook naked thrusting you can see). And if you need any more examples of the movie's complete creative bankruptcy, consider that in the childhood scene, the children are playing Olivia Newton-John's Physical ... in 1985. Was that the only sexual innuendo song they could think of?
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Filed Under Worst Month Ever