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Paramount Pictures
Official Site

Director: Nora Ephron

Producers: Andrew Lazar, Jonathan D. Krane, Sean Daniel

Written by: Adam Resnick

Cast: John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow, Tim Roth, Ed O’Neill, Michael Rapaport, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Moore, Michael Weston, Bill Pullman

Rating: 0.5 out of 5

LUCKY NUMBERS stars John Travolta as Russ Richards, TV weatherman, snowmobile salesman, and prominent citizen with both a cash flow problem and a thinking problem. Because Russ lives larger than his pockets are deep, he decides to dabble in insurance fraud. His complete lack of success at the enterprise does not deter him from a new crime — attempting to fix the Pennsylvania state lottery. (NOTE: Apparently there was a real scheme to fix PA’s Lotto back in 1980s.)

At the urging of his pal, Gig (Roth), a strip club proprietor with criminal connections, Russ embarks on the fix and brings Crystal (Kudrow), sexy dimbulb and lotto ball girl into the conspiracy. Then Crystal brings in her country cousin, Walter (Moore), as the beard who’ll cash in the winning ticket. Then a bookie who knows Gig gets wise to the fix, and wants in. Then the station manager (O’Neill), who’s also banging Crystal from time to time, finds out and wants in. On and on it goes, just like the nursery rhyme — the farmer takes a wife, the wife takes a child …

Will they get the money? Will they get the money but get caught? Will they go to jail? Will they get killed? These are all the questions Nora Ephron wants us to ask ourselves, but I was asking myself: Where’s the damn exit?

Travolta plays against type here as a guy who’s nice enough but too weak to resist temptations, but his character is badly written. He’s supposed to be a mental mineral, and sometimes the character is that dumb, but then sometimes he isn’t. Kudrow does a pretty good job as a real nasty piece of work, but it’s time to give the none-too-bright act (ROMY AND MICHELLE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION came to mind) a rest. She needs to find another three-dimensional role like the one she had in THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, before she gets stuck portraying women with small brains and big chests. Halfway through the movie, the cops show up, in the persons of Bill Pullman, reprising the Real Dumb Guy he played in RUTHLESS PEOPLE, and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell as his much smarter partner. Then there’s Tim Roth, who’s so hyper-cool it’s like he teleported in from another movie.

I think this was meant to be A SIMPLE PLAN-goes-black comedy, but what it is is a simple-minded, dreadful mess of a movie. The story is dumb, its resolution really doesn’t make sense, the acting is all over the place, characters get introduced late in the game for no discernible reason. The movie opens to the sounds of the great Joan Jett. That was about my last moment of enjoyment until the lights went up.

—Roxanne Bogucka

HYBRID Ratings Guide:

***** Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

**** It’s worth a full-price ticket.

*** It’s worth a matinee ticket.

** Wait for video rental.

* Check out the video from the library, if you must.

0 While I would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

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