John Furhman, the debuting writer/director of the new dark comedy A Bit of Bad Luck, has undeniably impressive credentials. He’s been a lawyer for over 20 years; he’s a former officer in the Washington Army National Guard; and he won a Bronze Star Medal for his military service in Iraq.
Unfortunately, none of those accomplishments have anything to do with filmmaking, and that’s where he comes up short.
The pic, written by Furhman with the assistance of his wife, a periodontist (sensing a pattern here?), is set in the couple’s native Washington. It concerns lawyer Brooks Caldwell (Cary Elwes), whose successful career and high-living lifestyle is mostly courtesy of his wife, Amanda (Teri Polo), who “comes from a wealthy family of timber barons.” This doesn’t stop the smarmy lawyer from eagerly pursuing extramarital affairs, much to his wife’s dismay.
During an assignation with his latest mistress, Heather (Agnes Brucker), the young woman urges Brooks to leave his wife, and when he demurs she proposes that they murder her. After he rejects the idea, she locks herself in the bathroom, and he wakes up to find her seemingly dead body next to an empty pill bottle. He starts to call the police but immediately thinks better of it, fleeing the hotel and leaving her on the floor.
And that’s when his trouble really begins, as his car soon breaks down and he finds himself stuck in the small town of Creechville, whose residents treat him suspiciously. He’s forced to stay at a fleabag hotel, and after a night of heavy drinking at the local bar he wakes up the next morning, having apparently been drugged, to find his room ransacked. It eventually becomes clear that the townspeople are conspiring against him as revenge for his having left one of their own to die.
Nothing in the proceedings is either remotely funny or suspenseful, and despite some elaborate plot machinations, especially in the final act, the film is a tedious slog. The lead performers are mostly adrift in their roles — why they were attracted to this material is anyone’s guess — with Elwes particularly floundering. While the actor has displayed comic gifts in the past in such films as The Princess Bride and Robin Hood: Men in Tights, he lacks the sympathetic everyman qualities to make us care about his character’s plight. By the time the film reaches its ridiculous (for the wrong reasons) conclusion, it’s hard to escape the feeling that A Bit of Bad Luck is a vanity project that has gone seriously awry.
Distributor: Indican Pictures
Production: Meadow Point Motion Pictures
Cast: Cary Elwes, Teri Polo, Agnes Brucker, Marshall Bell
Director-screenwriter: John Furhman
Producers: Mykel Denis, Stephen J. Lineweaver, Gerrarda O’Beirne
Executive producers: Jory Weitz, Polina Zaika
Director of photography: Matthew Irving
Production designer: Stephen J. Lineweaver
Editor: Sandra Granovsky
Costume designer: Polina Zaika
Composer: David Buckley
Not rated, 86 minutes