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"JUST MY LUCK"
(2006) (Lindsay Lohan, Chris Pine) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: An incredibly lucky young woman tries to get her luck back after it's been accidentally transferred via a kiss to a previously unlucky guy.
PLOT:
Ashley Albright (LINDSAY LOHAN) has been lucky all of her life. Whether it's avoiding the rain, getting an elevator all to herself or meeting some handsome guy, things always seem to go her way, much to the amazement of her friends Maggie (SAMAIRE ARMSTRONG) and Dana (BREE TURNER). They all work for Peggy Braden (MISSI PYLE) at her PR firm, where lady luck visits Ashley once again.

Music mogul Damon Phillips (FAIZON LOVE) and his entourage have arrived for a meeting with Peggy, but when she and everyone else ends up stuck in the elevator, Ashley takes it upon herself to pitch an idea to him. He loves it, Peggy is impressed, and soon Ashley is planning a swanky party, and even asking her handsome neighbor Antonio (CARLOS PONCE) to be Peggy's blind date.

If only things went so smoothly for Jake Hardin (CHRIS PINE). A bowling alley employee who spends time with his fourth grader cousin Katy (MAKENZIE VEGA) when not serving as the audio mixer and manager for the British band McFly, he's been trying to get a demo into Damon's hands. But, being the unlucky sort, he doesn't have a chance.

That is, until he inadvertently crashes Ashley's masquerade party as one of the hired dancers and tries to meet Damon. That doesn't happen until he and Ashley end up kissing on the dance floor. Suddenly, all of her luck is transferred to him, he ends up saving the mogul's life, and Ashley loses her job when the party takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

Once Ashley realizes what happened, she tries to find the masked dancer who kissed her and stole all of her luck, unaware that Jake isn't one of them. From that point on, and as their paths cross once again, the two try to deal with their ever-changing luck.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Considering that life in the "old days" -- ranging from prehistoric times up through the early 20th century -- was so unpredictable and often unfortunate, it isn't surprising that people became superstitious in terms of what prevented bad luck or caused certain folks to be lucky. One need only look at a culture's lexicon ("push one's luck," "unlucky at love," "as luck would have it") or symbols (broken mirrors, a rabbit's foot, black cats) to see how entrenched the notions of good and bad luck are in our everyday lives.

One such saying is "the third time's the charm," and that could easily be applied to Lindsay Lohan and her involvement in "body switching" movies had her first two efforts been failures. Yet, her remakes of "The Parent Trap" (where she played twins who switch places) and "Freaky Friday" (where she and Jamie Lee Curtis swap their mother/daughter arrangement) were decent offerings, buoyed by Lohan's affable performances.

Her third such genre offering -- "Just My Luck -- technically isn't a remake (although the plot is borrowed), but it continues the thematic trend in that she plays a perpetually fortunate woman who unwittingly passes her consistent good luck to a perpetual loser who likewise infects her with his bad mojo. Being a romantic comedy of sorts, one can see where the film is going long before it gets there, but that doesn't mean it can't be a fun trip, right?

Unfortunately, the voyage here -- driven by director Donald Petrie and navigated by screenwriters I. Marlene King and Amy B. Harris -- isn't, nor is it interesting, funny or as clever as it might have been. Being a former aspiring screenwriter, I hate seeing premises go to waste, but the filmmakers miss some golden opportunities as they go for silly and dumb rather than smart and clever with the material. For instance, the basic story is quite simple -- a single kiss transfers the luck, and the protagonist must find the usurper (who was masked at the time while attending a masquerade party) to get it back.

Okay, nothing complicated there, but plenty of potential is present, especially if said kissable luck manages to make its way through the community and end up in what would seem to be an unattainable person (in terms of planting a buss on them). Rather than going that route, the filmmakers opted to turn our plucky lead into a ditz, as if her smarts or at least common sense evaporated along with that now AWOL luck.

Accordingly, she tries to buff a bowling alley with a waxing machine while in heels and doesn't realize that too much soap in the washer always means a suds overflow of biblical proportions (she apparently has never seen the countless movies and sitcoms that have mined the exact same material for laughs over the decades). But the ultimate act of stupidity has to be popping one's contact lens back into the eye after its brief visit to an obviously used kitty litter box.

By that point, the filmmakers' obsession with poop-related material has become all too clear. Beyond a pile of modern art that's equated to elephant dung, there's the obligatory bird excrement on the shoulder (nothing says bad luck like that), some smelly bathroom moments, a guy getting dog poop on his hand after a music mogul uses a $5 bill as an impromptu pooper-scooper, and the always popular "Uranus" punch line. I'm guessing all of that is aimed at young kids (who seem to enjoy such material), but a little of that -- as in the real world -- goes a long way, but the filmmakers don't seem to know when to quit.

The tween crowd is serviced by a rather bland Brit boy band (that goes by the name of McFly -- presumably from "Back to the Future" - that gets a disproportionate amount of screen time, all the better to sell soundtracks, my pretty). All of which leaves the rest of us, well, to quote a character in the film (keeping the poop theme going), "SOL."

In what's presumably her last pre-Skeletor role, Lohan is stymied by the weak script and direction (she fares much better in the upcoming "Prairie Home Companion" where she's surrounded by real filmmakers and bona fide movie stars). Much like Sarah Jessica Parker in "The Family Stone," she's somewhat relegated to a series of high-pitched squeals whenever something goes amiss (which I guess is appropriate since her character ends up keeping Mrs. Broderick's clothes when they're mistakenly delivered to her).

Chris Pine is okay as her counterbalance character despite that role being too broadly written and his looks and performance melding into countless other similar ones you've seen over the years (you'll swear he looks like someone you know). Samaire Armstrong and Bree Turner play the requisite best friends but are given next to nothing to do (at least of any interest), while Faizon Love doesn't have enough fun in his role as a larger than life music mogul.

Sinatra may have sung "Luck be a lady tonight," and Rod Stewart "Some guys have all the luck," but it certainly didn't feel like my lucky day when I had to see and then review this film. No amount of rabbit foot rubbing, four-leaf clovers or upturned horseshoes can save this often excruciating mess. Of course, the downward facing horseshoe clearly points to the stuff on the barn floor that, fittingly enough, is what this film apparently has aimed to be. "Just My Luck" rates as a 3 out of 10.




Reviewed May 9, 2006 / Posted May 12, 2006


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