Friday, September 21, 2007

"Good Luck Chuck" -- *

Have you ever met a really horny, immature 14-year-old boy at a Bar Mitzvah, wedding or some other family function? Give that kid a film crew and $30 million dollars, and the results would probably be startlingly similar to “Good Luck Chuck,” the new masterwork starring unfunny funny man Dane Cook, and the worst actress working today, Jessica Alba. Needless to say, horny, immature 14-year-old boys are going to looooooove this movie; backwards-cap-wearing divorced dads trying to endear yourself to your preteen sons and appear "cool," this is the movie to take them to. The rest of the moviegoing populace will find it an execrable, scummy wretch that gives R-rated comedies a bad name.

Probably the one good thing one can say about “Good Luck Chuck” is that it does take advantage of its R-rating, giving its prime demographic lots and lots of titties, and what seems like endless montages of Cook fucking the hell out of dozens upon dozens of girls. But the mere fact that the movie is lowbrow and sex-obsessed isn’t on its own a bad thing. The problem is that its writer/director/star are the type of 14-year-olds at heart who still giggle at slang words for genitalia, bodily excretions and features non-stop hits in the balls. To give you an idea, our "money shot," so to speak, involves a woman with three breasts. Yeah.

Opening with a scene that doesn't quite qualify as kiddie porn, but invokes the same feeling (10-year-olds talking about "fingering" and "dicks" and such), the movie establishes our title character's fate when, during a game of "seven minutes in the closet," he refuses to show the goth girl at the party his penis. Like all goth girls, this one naturally practices witchcraft and knows how to recite hexes on memory. She puts a curse on little Charlie/Chuck that will make every girl he ever sleeps with immediate meet the man of their dreams afterwards-- i.e.: never Chuck himself. Chuck's dismayed when he learns said news, which dumbfounds his lecherous fat friend Stu (Dan Fogler), a plastic surgeon who only performs breast augmentations.

Now 37 years old and still stupid enough to not figure out this curse until now, Chuck (Cook) takes advantage of the situation by sleeping with as many girls as possible who learn his "curse." Unfortunately, Chuck soon falls for accident-prone Penguin specialist Cam (Alba), and has to keep from sleeping with her out of fear she'll fall in love with the next guy, and not him. That's pretty much it.

There's a big difference between offensive/outrageous and genuinely mean-spirited, and at virtually every turn, "Chuck" opts for the latter. We got not one, but two, extended sequences of obese women seducing or fucking a revolted Chuck, and we're meant to be nauseated as well that fat women want to have sex. In the world of "Good Luck Chuck," women should all strive to look like the never-ending stream of skinny, buxom identical-looking blondes and brunettes asked to disrobe here (all with identical-looking breasts, by the way). I only hope the heavyset actresses, Ellia English and Jodie Stewart, were adequately compensating for portraying the objects of derision for fratboys nationwide.

However, "Chuck" isn't just mean, it's also lazy. Director Mark Helfrich (who served as editor on the "Rush Hour" trilogy) shoves every gag down our throats, with the camera lingering about 30 seconds longer than seems necessary, like a sitcom's hopeful pause for laughs. The screenplay (by Josh Stolberg) creates a world where every male is a sex-crazed maniac and all females are giant-titted airheads, and also adheres to a hilariously by-the-book three-act structure where (1) Chuck learns of curse and fucks girls, (2) he meets/falls in love with Cam, and (3) he loses Cam and must get her back, culminating in a stunning display of originality where he has to race to catch her at the airport.

I saw Dan Fogler's Tony-winning performance in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," and it was clear that the guy had talent; as lisping, allergy-infested child prodigy William Barfee, he was hilarious and moving. It's wildly disheartening that after just two major film roles, Fogler already seems to have squandered any goodwill he built up. In "Balls of Fury," he was just vacant and uncharismatic, but here, he's out-and-out irritating. Every line is bellowed at maximum volume, and makes Stu one of the more off-putting film characters in some time. Matters aren't helped by a scene late in the film where, in a sequence that seems a metaphor for his film career, Fogler sticks his dick in a grapefruit.

Cook tries, but just misses, to pull off bland sincerity as Chuck. He's not out-and-out awful, but he's still the weakest excuse for a comedic leading man since... well, Dan Fogler in "Balls of Fury."

Alba has gone past the point of awful to being out-and-out embarrassing to watch. I genuinely feel bad for the girl as she tries to deliver lines like "I'm going to Antarctica for research," but the poor girl has such dead eyes and vacant expressions, she's barely believable as a human being. Making Cam accident-prone was a smart move by the filmmakers, covering Alba's limited/zero skills; when she's falling down or getting hit in the head, acting and speaking isn't really necessary. In an age when many actresses are just startlingly mediocre and getting by on their looks, Alba's noticeable awfulness is apparent in every single line deliver and facial expression. At this juncture, her performance as a scantily-clad girl who danced around in "Sin City" is the best she's been in a film.

I'm certainly glad the R-rated raunchy comedy is on the way back thanks to a Mr. Apatow (and we still have "The Heartbreak Kid" on the horizon), but movies like "Good Luck Chuck" are what killed the genre in the first place. Those who actually want to see this will get what they came for-- mucho nudity and crass, mean gags-- but I weep for the generation that finds Dane Cook performing cunnilingus on a stuffed penguin the height of comedic brilliance.


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