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Capone Says You're Lucky If You See LUCKY YOU!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here, with an alternate movie offering for those of you turned off (or turned away) by the lines inevitably waiting to great you at every Cineplex playing SPIDER-MAN 3. The thinking behind the two-year release delay of LUCKY YOU was that competitive poker wasn't in style anymore with the public. So a 2-hour-plus drama about a professional poker player, in which at least one hour of the film is spent at the tables may not have audiences lining up around the block. LUCKY YOU was meant to mark Drew Barrymore's transition from cutesy romantic comedies (like the recent MUSIC & LYRICS) into more serious works of merit. And while the film is hardly on a dramatic par with something like LEAVING LAS VEGAS, it is a far better offering than its long-delayed opening would lead us to believe. In fact, it's a really great character study not only of poker players but also of people who find stability and financial security too much responsibility to handle. Set in Las Vegas (naturally), the film stars MUNICH's Eric Bana as Huck Cheever, a player who is as smart as they come but frequently impatient and hotheaded at the tables whenever he feels someone is challenging him a little too aggressively. He likes to put people in their place, but often that leaves him on the losing end of a hand he should have played more intelligently. As a result, he is often pawning possessions and borrowing money so that he can buy into lower-stakes games to win enough cash to play with the big boys. LUCKY YOU is that rare film that actually makes a real effort not just to show you people playing cards, but also to explain the complicated and sometimes baffling strategy that goes into every hand. Funny, I used to think poker was about who had the better hand, and that's why I only play blackjack when I go to Vegas. Bana's primary objective when we meet him is to win or borrow enough money for the entry fee to enter the World Series of Poker and win the massive grand prize. There's a stellar cameo by Robert Downey Jr. as one of Huck's friends that just makes you love Downey that much more, if that's possible. The guy can do more with five minutes of screen time than just about anybody. While searching Vegas for people he can borrow or win money from, he meets Billie (Barrymore), a singer just in from Bakersfield and the sister of Suzanne, a woman (Debra Messing) who knows Buck's game a little too well. Huck sees her as a temporary solution to his cash flow problem if he can charm her into loaning him some cash. She sees him as the smooth-talking charmer he is. And the two seem undeniably drawn to each other. As one would expect, the analogies tying Huck's life to gambling and cards fly fast and furious in LUCKY YOU, but director Curtis Hanson (8 MILE; L.A. CONFIDENTIAL; WONDER BOYS) and his co-writer Eric Roth keep things from going down a truly cheesy path. In addition to Bana's absolutely flawless performance, the film generates even more fire thanks to Robert Duvall's razor sharp portrayal of Huck's father, a two-time poker champion and the one man Huck can't seem to beat. Dad left wife and son when Huck was young, and the animosity between them is fierce at times. It's also the reason Huck plays recklessly against him. It's rare that I've ever found a hand of cards suspenseful. In fact, before the masterfully paced hands in CASINO ROYALE, I think the last round of poker I found thrilling was in THE STING, which made me all the more excited that the unprecedented amount of screen time devoted to cards in LUCKY YOU is all pretty exciting stuff. I know the games are rigged for the cameras, but by allowing the audience a little insight into the way the players think and how much they know about the other players' hands, it drew me in and kept me there. These scenes combined with a great deal of humor, an unusual but worthy love story, and a subtle tale of redemption (of more than one character), LUCKY YOU is solid drama that has been shamelessly pushed back and back in the release schedule for months on end, and has the sad distinction of being the only other major film to open up the same weekend as SPIDER-MAN 3. If you're someone who hates crowds and loves a good character study, this should satisfy you on all accounts.


Readers Talkback
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  • May 4, 2007, 4:52 p.m. CST

    Wow, First?

    by Rebeck2

    Glad to hear it. I'm a poker nut and I've been waiting for this, but all the other reviews wrote it off. How bad can a Curtis Hanson movie be? He's a pretty solid director.

  • May 4, 2007, 4:52 p.m. CST

    I may very well see this instead

    by godzillasushi

    exactly for the reasons you stated. LINES, and PEOPLE. It sounds pretty cool. I enjoy a good card flick. ;)

  • May 4, 2007, 4:55 p.m. CST

    Trasnformer's sequel

    by brassai2003 yep. there it is! You geeks should thank bay for giving meaning to another year of your lives!!!

  • May 4, 2007, 4:58 p.m. CST


    by Err

    If I wanted to see this, I'd turn on WSOP on ESPN.

  • May 4, 2007, 5 p.m. CST


    by Banky the Hack

    They should've done a lot better with the ads for this then, because every time I see a spot for it, I feel like a diabetic touring Wonka's I'm going to die from saccharine overdose.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:02 p.m. CST

    masterfully paced hands in casino royale?

    by BadMrWonka

    well...pacing aside, if you actually play texas hold em, those hands were the most ludicrous concoctions ever devised. they were beyond just being improbable, they were obscenely ridiculous. considering how popular the game is now, I'm surprised more peple didn't laugh out loud in the theater like I did. if this film pulls anything close to that, I'm sure to be chuckling again.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:09 p.m. CST

    also worth noting

    by BadMrWonka

    there's a professional player named Huck (Huckleberry Seed, if you believe that) who is renowned for being one of the most level-headed, consistent, and down to earth players out there. ironic! I suppose if they named this character "mike the mouth" no one would believe it's actually a real name.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:12 p.m. CST

    not a bad film

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    but too inside poker for outsiders and too obvious for poker followers.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:14 p.m. CST

    Rounders was aces!

    by TissueConscience

    Gretchin Mol...I wanted to POKE-HER! Get it? HAHAHAHAHA! Fuck it.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Two things: Capone is a girl

    by chrth

    And he's obviously never seen Rounders.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:26 p.m. CST

    Splash the fucking pot

    by Dr Gregory House

    Repect is all you'll have left in the morning.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:36 p.m. CST

    I do want to see it.

    by indiephantom

    maybe tonight. Already checked out Spidey.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:57 p.m. CST

    As good as Downey IS, hes squandering his opportunities

    by SydBarretsMyDad

    I love the guy.....I agree, hes riveting just because hes HIM. But, to me, there is still too much puck left in him. Too much wacky goofy friend sidekick ala Johnny B. Goode for me to place him in a class of actor that I truly believe he could be in. He needs a serious, quieter dramatic role. He needs a role like Hackman had in The Conversation. He been pickin his feet in pokipsee for long enough. Its time for him to elevate. There arent that many actors these days that are as close as he is to greatness.

  • May 4, 2007, 6:03 p.m. CST

    Seeing this on one condition

    by Banky the Hack

    Does John Malkovitch say "Myuney" in it anywhere?

  • May 4, 2007, 6:25 p.m. CST

    Worst Ad Campaign EVAR

    by polyh3dron

    Even the few ads and billboards I see scream "We're not confident in this movie and don't want to spend ANY money on promo for it."

  • May 4, 2007, 6:35 p.m. CST


    by Mezzanine

    I have to say that I am surprised by this review. The commercials and trailer made this movie look like a fucking snooze fest. So either Capone is lying, or the ad department needs to be fucking sacked.

  • May 4, 2007, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Bullshit Capone. Bull. Shit.

    by bubbha

    "The thinking behind the two-year release delay of LUCKY YOU was that competitive poker wasn't in style anymore with the public. " No. No. No. The movie was pushed back because it's a piece of trash. They re-shot it several times, with at least three endings that I know of. What's more, there was a huge power struggle between Hanson and WB over the tone of the film and the marketing campaign. This movie was IN THE CAN over a year ago, when WB had big losses, like Posidon and Superman Returns, and they didn't want another stinker on their hands.

  • May 4, 2007, 8:02 p.m. CST

    Tomatoemeter puts it at 29%

    by bubbha

    Ti's a sucky flick.

  • May 4, 2007, 8:45 p.m. CST


    by waites

    I found your comments about Downey interesting. I think he tries to pick the best roles he can get. For a long time he had huge insurance problems. Now that he is Iron Man that is obviously behind him. He is excellent in Zodiac.. did you see that? I have to say I would love to see him in a part in a movie like the Departed. He could knock it out of the park.I am hearing good things about Charlie Barlett that was just at Tribecca. Again, he has a small part in it but he is supposed to be excellent.

  • May 5, 2007, 1:09 a.m. CST

    HULK or HUCK?

    by Proman1984

    Nevermind. The movie does look pretty good btw. Thanks for the review.

  • May 5, 2007, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Curtis Hanson is a fantastic director

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    One of my favourites. This will be good, but do crappy box office. And as for the Casino Royale hand being too improbable; play enough poker (like me) and you will see everything once. Seen recently trips v trips v 4 of a kind, and quad 3's v quad J's.

  • May 5, 2007, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Drew Drew Drew

    by liljuniorbrown

    She is so sexy. I guess it's because she seems real,like a chick you'd meet at college or something. Enough of that, besides going to see this flick because of Drew,Let It Ride by Ryan Adams is on the soundtrack so i'll definitely be there.I'm a die hard Adams fan.

  • May 5, 2007, 2:52 p.m. CST

    Cards are for...

    by mrtwig48

    ....little kids and gays who like a nut flush.

  • May 6, 2007, 1:43 a.m. CST

    Isnt this a chick flick?

    by GibsonUSA Returns

    What were the demographics of AICN readership again?

  • May 6, 2007, 1:48 a.m. CST

    G'day, I'm poiter

    by chipps

    ... I'm just saying.

  • May 6, 2007, 2:29 a.m. CST


    by werewolfbynight

    a few years ago curtis hanson was attached to direct a film about competitive scrabble. as a scrabble fan i need this film now.james woods as joe edley would blow my mind. please make this film.

  • Nov. 15, 2007, 2:23 p.m. CST

    not that was an okay movie..

    by just pillow talk

    My wife didn't like the main character and hoped that he would "get beat up since he was so careless with his money."