Good Luck Chuck
2007, R, 96 min. Directed by Mark Helfrich. Starring Dane Cook, Jessica Alba, Dan Fogler, Lonny Ross.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 21, 2007
Pitched somewhere between Farrelly brothers-lite and some oddball National Lampoon outing, Good Luck Chuck is as familiar as it is charming, which isn't to say it's a good film. Far from it. The high-concept idea, in which Cook's dentist, Charlie, is cursed in an opening flashback to a disastrous round of adolescent spin the bottle by an amorous gothling, is rife with promise. The curse, which renders the adult Charlie unable to maintain a meaningful (or otherwise) relationship with women (who then go on to find their true Mr. Right the moment they dump poor Chuck), may be the engine that propels the story, but it's Cook and Alba's creepy chemistry that makes the film tolerable. She's Cam, a penguin-obsessed zoo worker, who meets cute with Charlie at a mutual friend's wedding. Aware of his many one-night stands but unaware of the curse, she at first turns down his offer of a date. But Charlie, convinced that she's the one, pursues her with an increasingly desperate vigor, made even more manic and disturbing after he and Fogler's obnoxious buddy/wingman uncover the heretofore undreamed of curse. Will Charlie and Cam hook up in the end? Does Dane Cook remind you of Ryan Reynolds? Is Good Luck Chuck cynical rom-com filmmaking masquerading as bubbly fluff? It's a trifecta of mediocrity, but strangely, among all the gross-out gags (Fogler proves his friendship by sleeping with the largest woman in town; Charlie gets it on with his equally voluminous secretary in a moment of matrimonial sympathy), there's some genuine comic talent, most notably from Cook, who's done this sort of thing before in Employee of the Month, and Fogler, whose recent turn in Balls of Fury carries a matter-of-fact comic hubris that matches his physical girth. Alba, for her part, mines the screwball comedy slapstick with pratfalls galore, though it's still tough to buy her, as the film asks us to, as a completely disjointed klutz. Director Helfrich and company have aimed low and scored a reasonably inoffensive also-ran. It's a strictly date-night-rental affair, and if you still get Ryan Reynolds and Dane Cook confused, this will do little to help sort things out.