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Losing hand

Movies | Lucky You does too little with what could be a rich subject

Issue: "Is Romney rolling?," May 19, 2007

Lucky You's subject matter could be a rich investigation of one man's striving. At times, the film (rated PG-13 for some language and sexuality) plays just like that.

Huck (Eric Bana) is the compulsive gambling son of poker icon L.C. Cheever, played well by Robert Duvall. When Huck isn't making a living off of Las Vegas tourists at the casino tables, he's out gallivanting for some female companionship. When his luck turns and he needs cash, he hustles friends, girlfriends, and even pawn shop owners into giving him loans.

One such girlfriend (Drew Barrymore) sees through him better than most. While he claims his compulsive gambling is only hurting himself, she helps him see that his poker addiction has harmed everyone around him. Meanwhile, Huck and his estranged father manage to come to an understanding about past squabbles during the World Series of Poker, a contest in which both do well.

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The cameras stop rolling when Huck is riding a winning streak. He's proved himself at the poker table, made peace with his father, and recaptured the affections of his love interest. Hollywood would have you believe Huck lives happily ever after. Biblical wisdom and the testimony of thousands of recovering gambling addicts would speak to the contrary, if given a voice.

Two years ago when ESPN-induced poker mania was at an all-time high, Curtis Hanson's drama about a poker player trying to find himself both at the table and in life would have played better.

Instead, poker is waning as a fad and the film's plot flatlines for a full 124 minutes. Lucky You isn't a good movie so much as it is a long one.

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