Just My Luck review by Mike Long

It seems that Lindsay Lohan is constantly in the news (if you call the gossip columns news.) Most recently, the executive producer of Georgia Rule, the film Lohan is currently shooting, sent a letter to the actress and the press threatening to sue her is she didn't stop partying and get back to work. ("Entertainment Weekly" re-printed the letter in its entirety.) Then there was the Brandon Davis "fire-crotch" tape. And the constant rumors of fights with other celebrities. And the digital breast-reduction that she received for Herbie: Fully Loaded (which apparently should have been called "Shirt Fully Loaded"). But do you remember the last time you heard about Lindsay Lohan making a good movie? That would have been back in 2004 with Mean Girls. Her latest release, Just My Luck, won't do anything to improve her reputation. (To be fair, I haven't seen A Prairie Home Companion, but I wouldn't really consider that a Lindsay Lohan movie.)

Lohan stars in Just My Luck as Ashley Albright, a young woman who is blessed with remarkable luck. Besides the fact that she has a great job at a PR firm and a nice apartment in Manhattan, Ashley always seems to find herself in the right place at the right time, whether that be finding money, hailing a cab, or overseeing an impromptu meeting with record mogul Damon Phillips (Faizon Love). This meeting lands Ashley a promotion and the task of overseeing a masquerade ball for Phillips record label.

The movie also introduces us to Jake Hardin (Chris Pine), Ashley's polar opposite. Jake has been cursed with bad luck. It always seems to be raining when he's out. His pants rip. Birds poop on him. Jake is the unofficial manager of a band called McFly and he's determined to get their demo to Damon Phillips, despite the fact that his bad luck typically botches his plans. When he learns of the masquerade ball, he decides to corner Phillips there. Jakes sneaks into the ball, where he meets Ashley. They dance and kiss. When this kiss occurs, their lucks are exchanged.

Suddenly, Jake finds himself on top of the world, as his attempts to help McFly finally pay off and fame and fortune are suddenly thrust upon them. Meanwhile, Ashley's world is turned upside down, as she loses everything. Once she realizes how she lost her luck, Ashley becomes determined to reclaim it. But when she finds Jake and really gets to know him, she learns that the task won't be as easy as she's originally thought.

Let's talk about an important distinction here. There's a huge difference between a bad movie and a movie that's not good. A bad movie would be something like Halloween 5 or Agent Cody Banks 2. These are movies where everyone involved should have known better and the project didn't even look good on paper. These movies are usually unsatisfying across the board and offer nothing to the viewer. In contrast, movie's that aren't good are perfectly fine in the technical sense, as they are well-made and put together. They contain recognizable actors, interesting locations, and good production values. The movie's often contain interesting plots. However, there's usually something about the story or the characters which simply isn't impressive and the film leaves a bad impression on the viewer, or worse no impression at all. Just My Luck falls squarely into this category.

The idea of an inherently lucky person losing that luck to someone who desperately needs it is an intriguing one, but the movie squanders this premise in many ways. When we first meet Ashley, she is instantly unlikable. I'm not sure if this was the movie's intention, but that's what happened. The fact that she always gets what she wants makes Ashley very difficult to identify with. Similarly, it's hard to like Jake as he's such a loser. When Ashley loses her luck, the viewer is happy, and at the same time, apathetic that Jake will now be successful. The characters in the film are all so flat and lifeless that it's nearly impossible to latch on to any of them. Once Ashley and Jake's roles are reversed, the movie falls into a very predictable rut where the former rich girl must pull herself up by her bootstraps and survive. There's also a problem with Jake's devotion to McFly and unless you're really into bubble-gum pop rock, you'll also wonder why Jake loves this band so much.

I try not to let real-life intrude when I'm watching a film, but I couldn't help but think of the stories which appeared during the making of Just My Luck when I was viewing it. This was the period when Lindsay Lohan was hospitalized and threw off the production schedule. Rumors abounded that she wasn't sick, but was exhausted from partying, especially when the shoot was in New Orleans. I can say that her voice is often very scratchy throughout the film and her performance is sluggish in some scenes. It's a shame to see someone who showed so much promise get derailed in this fashion. A more mature role, such a Manhattan working girl, was a natural progression for Lohan after Mean Girls, but this part is very banal and the actress who essayed two roles in The Parent Trap should have looked for a challenge.

When Mission: Impossible III didn't meet box-office expectations earlier this year, many wondered if it was a backlash against Tom Cruise. I can't help but wonder the same thing about Just My Luck, as it opened in 4th place and was considered a flop. It's difficult to watch a film about a lucky, successful girl being portrayed by someone who's gaining a reputation as a spoiled Hollywood party girl. Beyond that, the film is uninspired and by the numbers. If you're lucky, you'll skip this one.

Just My Luck walks under a ladder to DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD contains both the widescreen and full-screen versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer provides what one would expect from a movie which just hit theaters four months ago. The picture is sharp and clear, showing a tiny bit of grain, but no defects from the source material. The brightness of the image is well-balanced, as it's never overly dark or bright. The colors here are very good, especially the pastels and bold colors of the masquerade ball. I noticed some mild artifacting, but little edge enhancement. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. For a romantic-comedy, this was a pretty good track. The dialogue was always sharp and clear. Stereo effects were in abundance and there were some nice surround sound effects during the street scenes and the McFly concert.

You can always spot a flop when a studio DVD has few extras. The widescreen side of the DVD has "McFly Behind the Scenes Featurette" (8 minutes) which shows the band in London shooting the film's finale. Director Donald Petrie walks us through the shooting while the band offers comments. The other side has "Look of Luck" which is a very brief (3 minutes) look at the film's costumes. This side also features three DELETED SCENES. I'm guessing that one was cut because it could have been construed as racially insensitive, but why did they cut the scene with Steven Tobolowsky?

3 out of 10 Jackasses

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