Baity Tries to Enjoy a Stroke of Bad Luck
Supernatural forces are much more common to romantic comedies than horror movies.
Whether it’s Fate, Destiny or their clumsy younger sibling, Luck, one of the three always seems to pop up in the lives of a handful of nitwits who can’t get together on their own. The indefinable force mucks around for about 75 minutes before it finally gets it right, usually in some place like an airport, a train station, a baseball stadium or any place where a mass of people can erupt in applause when two strangers finally kiss.
Good Luck Chuck adds nothing at all to the recipe, and the result is some mighty bland stew. The film centers around a dentist named Chuck Logan (Dane Cook), who, depending on one’s point of view, is either blessed or cursed. It goes like this: Chuck will fall for a girl. His commitment phobia will prevent him from saying “I Love You” and she will leave. She will then marry the next person she is with.
For Chuck, it’s a hex, wished upon him by a Goth girl way back in elementary school (really). For the women who catch wind of it, it’s a lucky charm, and soon, Chuck is inundated with calls from strange women salivating at the very thought of a white dress.
The hex is never more of a burden, however, than when Chuck meets Cam, played by Jessica Alba, and falls in love, because Cam is played by Jessica Alba. If he’s with her – and here I suppose I can cast off all pretense and let you know that “with” is code for “has sex with,” something the R-rated Good Luck Chuck strangely dances around throughout the movie – then he’ll lose her to some other guy.
That’s the premise, thin as it is. If you think it sounds like a Lindsay Lohan movie, you wouldn’t be far off base.
A lot of people (myself included) beat up on Dane Cook because, to put it bluntly, he’s about as funny as flesh-eating bacteria. His observations about “stuff we all do” are boring and safe, and though he has an undeniable gift for public speaking, well, so does Tony Robbins. But honestly, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy, and he’s obviously worked hard to get where he is. Judging by the packed houses he plays to, he makes a lot of people happy. Good for him, and good for them. His comedy is still terrible, a shotgun blast of lackluster punch lines underscored by wild gestures and VERY. EMPHATIC. DICTION.
And that, more or less, is exactly what Good Luck Chuck is. The film, like Cook’s routine, doesn’t have a lot of actual jokes. Instead, there are a lot of wild gestures where the jokes would be. Alba’s character is made, inexplicably, into a serial klutz, so she falls down a lot, and makes Chuck fall down a few times, and that’s where the comedy happens, at least outside the bedroom. First-time director Mark Helfrich tries to make hay out of the fact that Cook is a reluctant ladies’ man, so there are also too many scenes where he’s nearly raped by a woman (now there’s a refreshing twist!).
There’s a little lame drug humor courtesy of “30 Rock”‘s Lonny Ross, and some shrill, wholly unpleasant misogyny from Dan “Balls of Fury” Fogler, whose character may go down as the least funny, least lovable sidekick this side of a Farrelly Brothers movie. As much as I disliked the film as a whole, Fogler is the one who makes Good Luck Chuck veer off toward the offensive. Without him, it’s really just a waste of an hour and a half, one more formulaic date movie reprocessed for the MySpace set, as insightful as a text message and as instantly forgettable as a Dane Cook joke.
Let Glen know that he’s not nearly as funny as Dane when you send you e-mail to email@example.com.