Good Luck Chuck
This review was written for the theatrical review of "Good Luck Chuck."
Trash-talking fat guys seem to be all the rage this year, as the success of "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" demonstrates.
Viewers' response to "Good Luck Chuck" might depend on how much enthusiasm they have for the raunchy rantings of another overweight man-boy, played by Dan Fogler, who won a Tony for his more nuanced turn in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." Fogler's Stu, a lecherous plastic surgeon, is not the main character in "Chuck." But he's the hero's horny best friend, and you have to spend an awful lot of time in his company, which will probably tickle dirty-minded teens and drive everyone else up the wall.
"Chuck" is a high-concept hard-R comedy that will delight its core audience, but it seems unlikely to match the (somewhat undeserved) critical acclaim and boxoffice success of "Superbad." The gimmick here is that Charlie (Dane Cook), a dentist who had a curse placed on him when he was a kid, is destined for sex but not love. It seems that every woman who sleeps with him will marry the next man she meets, making him the good-luck charm for all kinds of women desperate to tie the knot. At first, Charlie enjoys all the casual sex that comes his way, but he begins to resent the fact that he's not a keeper. Matters get even more complicated when he meets an accident-prone young woman, Cam (Jessica Alba), who seems to be a perfect match, but he worries that if they sleep together, she's sure to marry someone else -- unless he can break the curse.
The premise allows for lots of sex play, lots of crude encouragement on the part of Stu and some tiresome sight gags depicting Cam's pratfalls and mishaps. The script by Josh Stolberg has no fizz. It's possible to sit for half an hour without cracking a smile. Part of the problem is sheer repetitiveness; another problem is that Stu's leering remarks are repulsive rather than endearing. Yet this juvenile comedy directed by Mark Helfrich turns out to be easier to take than it has any right to be, largely because of the presence of Cook. He's co-starred in dumb comedies like "Employee of the Month," and he made a rather convincing psycho in "Mr. Brooks," but here he's playing romantic comedy, and he turns out to be surprisingly skillful at it. He might have the potential to be a latter-day Chevy Chase, who managed to navigate farce as well as romance with panache. Because of Cook's performance, we end up feeling sympathy for Charlie and rooting for him to get lucky in love.
Alba also gives an appealing performance, and she displays the right chemistry with Cook. Other cast members are merely adequate. Technical credits and music are solid, but they can't rescue the witless script.
GOOD LUCK CHUCK
Director: Mark Helfrich
Screenwriter: Josh Stolberg
Producers: Mike Karz, Barry Katz, Brian Volk-Weiss
Executive producers: Tracey Edmonds, Russell Hollander, Ogden Gavanski, Michael Paseornek
Director of photography: Anthony B. Richmond
Production designer: Mark Freeborn
Music: Aaron Zigman
Co-producers: Cece Karz, Karen Russell
Costume designer: Trish Keating
Editor: Julia Wong
Charlie: Dane Cook
Cam: Jessica Alba
Stu: Dan Fogler
Joe: Lonny Ross
Jennifer: Caroline Ford
Carol: Chelan Simmons
Natalie: Natalie Morris
Reba: Ellia English
Young Charlie: Connor Price
Young Stu: Troy Gentile
Eleanor Skepple: Jodie Stewart
Running time -- 96 minutes
MPAA rating: R