Lucky You – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Curtis Hanson

Cast

Eric Bana……….Huck Cheever
Drew Barrymore……….Billie Offer
Horatio Sanz……….Ready Eddie
Debra Messing……….Suzanne Offer
Robert Duvall……….L. C. Cheever

The Movie

Films about poker have never really been box office bonanzas, as The Cincinnati Kid and Rounders both featured stellar casts but didn’t post stellar box office receipts. In an era where the popularity of the “sport” peaked several years ago, Lucky You had a string of bad luck before being released onto DVD. After having a release date set for Christmas 2007, the film was bounced around several times and had its trailer attached to several films indicating that it would be pushed back further. And then, when it initially looked like the film had gone from being an outside contender for an Academy Award nomination or two, the film was released the same weekend the three biggest movies of the year were about to come out. With audiences flocking to the big summer blockbusters, including the year’s biggest draw in Spider-man 3, Lucky You was lost in the shuffle as a poker film marketed as a romantic comedy just couldn’t find an audience. Which is a shame, really, because it’s the equal of cult hit Rounders in quality with a better lead performance.

Huck (Eric Bana) is a professional gambler in Las Vegas, NV, who pushes his luck to the point where he loses back everything he’s won and then some more. The son of renowned professional poker player L.C Cheever, (Robert Duvall), Huck isn’t nearly as good a player nor is he as wealthy as his father has become from the sport. Huck makes a living, what can be called a living at least, playing poker amongst the regulars and tourists alike. Huck’s life changes when he meets Billie (Drew Barrymore), a newcomer to Vegas trying to make it as a singer, as well as the World Series of Poker is about to start and Huck wants a seat at the final table.

And while the film’s trailers advertised the film as a romantic comedy, it’s really a poker film and the film’s relentless focus on getting the poker right gives it an authenticity that most films lack. This isn’t Casino Royale type poker where it becomes a series of escalating high hands; this is nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty poker that’s played everyday. Considering Hanson used many veteran plays in the film as well as used a world-class poker player as his consultant, it’s not surprising how realistic the poker is. These are the sorts of hands that actually have been played, some in the World Series of Poker, so it truly feels like a game of skill as opposed to the usual sort of screenwriting trick that makes it a series of escalating drama.

Lucky You also features two top notch actors in parts they do well. Duvall is a screen legend, but unlike a lot of actors he brings a terrific take on L.C. Some would play him a bit more evil and more as an antagonist; Duvall plays him as the sort of father who has plenty of sage advice he just has to say it in a mean-spirited way on occasion to make his point. Bana, with whom Duvall has a great chemistry, is top notch in his role as a gambler trying to escape his father’s shadow. Huck has more talent than nearly any player but doesn’t have the brains to put it together; he’s equal parts idiot and genius, playing things as a means of spiting his father on occasion and trying to show him up on others. It’s an interesting juxtaposition for the two actors and characters, Bana as the young one trying to make his mark and Duvall as the legend trying for one more run at it all.

Lucky You may have came and went in theatres, finishing distantly to the megalith that was the third installment in the Spider-Man franchise, but like Rounders it deserves to be seen if only on DVD.

A/V QUALITY CONTROL

Presented in a widescreen format with a Dolby Digital 5.1 format, the film’s a/v is good but isn’t spectacular. The DVD does replicate the film’s great shots of the strip in Las Vegas, and the film’s soundtrack comes through wonderfully, it just doesn’t need to or take the leap from being really good to being terrific because it doesn’t need to.

The Extras

The Players at The Table focuses on the real players who were cast in the film. Pulled from casinos all over California and in Las Vegas, it’s an interesting look at how they pulled the extras and players for the film. It adds to the film’s authenticity to see real life pros playing the game with Bana and Duvall.

The Reel Deal — The Time and Place of Lucky You is a generic making of featurette where Hanson and various members of the production staff discuss how they were able to replicate everything that they used in Vegas in reference to the gambling aspects of the film.

There are the requisite Deleted Scenes included as well, watching them makes it obvious as to why they weren’t included.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Lucky You
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8.0
THE VIDEO

8.5
THE AUDIO

8.5
THE EXTRAS

5.0
REPLAY VALUE

7.5
OVERALL
4.0
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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