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Lucky Numbers

review by Ren C.

Studio: Paramount

Running Time: 105 minutes

Starring John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow

Written by Adam Resnick

Directed by Nora Ephron

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Nora Ephron, "Lucky Numbers: A Look Inside" Featurette, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Scene Selection

John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow starring in a comedy directed by Nora Ephron. This, at first glance, looks like a hit in the making. Don't be fooled, as this is quite possibly one of the least funny comedies that I have seen in quite sometime.

Lucky Numbers is well intentioned enough, and the plot, on the surface, sounds fairly appealing. Weatherman Russ Richards (Travolta), a local celebrity but not much more, enjoys his fame, until one day when he receives a foreclosure notice on his house. Desperate for a plan that will make him rich, and fast, he gets the idea of using his somewhat girlfriend Crystal, the lottery girl. Together with their accomplice Gig (Tim Roth), they manage to rig the lottery balls so that their winning numbers are drawn. However, once the lottery is won, the problem becomes actually getting their hands on the winnings.

Like I said, the plot, on the surface, sounds fairly funny. Adding to this is the outstanding supporting cast that includes Ed O'Neill, Michael Rapaport and Bill Pullman. The unfortunate thing is that they're never really given anything to do. Even Travolta and Kudrow look bored, with both of them playing characters that they can do in their sleep. Ephron, most familiar to viewers through such movies as Sleepless in Seattle and one of Travolta's previous endeavors, Michael, really doesn't seem to have her heart in this. At its heart, the movie wants to be an enjoyable slapstick comedy, but is far too mean-spirited to accomplish that. None of the characters are likable enough for the viewer to want them to succeed, which is what generally makes a comedy like this successful. The protagonists are all unbelievably self-serving, and by the end of the movie, I didn't want any of them to succeed, I just wanted to be rid of them.

Despite its inherent plot flaws, Paramount has done a very nice job with the presentation. The anamorphic transfer here looks very good, with colors bright and vibrant without bleeding, and black levels rich and consistent. There is no apparent grain on the movie, and little to no pixelation or artifacts. Overall, a good transfer for a movie this recent.

As good as the video is, the audio seems just a little bit better. The surrounds are used throughout the movie, with the varied music that is present in almost every seen sounding great. I really didn't expect this much bass from a comedy, but it seemed like every scene had something that was using the full resources available. Dialogue was never difficult to understand, and was spaced in such a way that was logical. This transfer was a very pleasant surprise.

Features have always been the weak point of Paramount's presentations, and this is no exception. Even for a box-office bomb like this, I would have liked to see a little more in the way of depth.

Certainly the most notable feature here is the Audio Commentary with Director Nora Ephron. Ephron's enjoyment of the movie comes through in the commentary, as she describes how much she enjoyed working with Travolta and Kudrow, why she chose the script, and other interesting things about the movie. Ephron tends to pause for a while when she chooses her comments, but this is still a fairly enjoyable commentary.

The next feature is labeled on the menu as "Exclusive Cast & Crew Interviews", but is actually a featurette titled "Lucky Numbers: A Look Inside". Interviews with all the principles are included, and the featurette does little more but allow them to gush about one another. This is something that is worth watching once and never again.

The Theatrical Trailer wraps up the special features, running slightly long for a contemporary release.

So much potential, so little of it realized. While the cast and director are very impressive, the script drags them all down. It seems like everyone involved knew what type of movie they wanted to make, but they didn't quite make it there. Video and audio are quite nice, but the features are disappointing, and the price, as is typical with Paramount releases, is on the high side.

(1.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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