Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Jessica Alba……….Cam Wexler
Dane Cook is to white people what Tyler Perry is to African-Americans; somehow, inexplicably he’s found to be hilarious without having any sort of imitatable comic routine by masses of people. After a career that found him success on the standup circuit, Cook has chosen to try to become Hollywood’s next great leading comedian without having the sort of legendary routine that other comedians have had. He’s been able to do it with sheer presence and charisma, which describes most of the good aspects of his latest venture Good Luck Chuck.
Cook plays Charlie, a dentist hexed as a young man to never be happy in love. When all of his past girlfriends inexplicably meet their true love after dating him, word gets around that he’s a good luck charm of sorts. After his plastic surgeon friend Stu (Dan Fogler) convinces him to take advantage of the situation, he finds it empty and shallow. Fate intervenes when he meets Cam (Jessica), a beautiful yet clumsy penguin expert, and he fears his “curse” may take away the woman he thinks may be his soul-mate. While it’s a slightly different take on a formulaic genre, the film succeeds because Cook parlays a brilliant hour of comedy in the beginning until the film’s script derails him significantly, leaving the film to limp along for the last 20 minutes.
His charisma and presence have never been in doubt, so it’s not surprising that Cook is a likeable romantic lead to begin with. Charlie plays right into his hands as a comedian, playing to his strengths from the stand-up world and avoiding the pratfalls of falling into predictable gags for the most part. Charlie is a character that an audience can root for because Cook plays him so well, not because we’re supposed to, and the comedian stays away from his stage persona for a different but more nuanced film persona.
Dan Fogler is strong in his supporting role as well. He and Cook have good chemistry with one another and both are given the things they do the funniest to do. Fogler is given a lot of not-so-subtle things to do and say, as well as lots of physical humor, to give him a nice contrast to Cook’s more subtle style. Even Jessica Alba, who’s usually an albatross in most films, has a character limited enough that she’s not a fish out of water.
The film’s failing grace is how deep a hole it plunges to get to its third act. In every romantic comedy there’s a breakup before the big finale, when the couple finally gets together, but it goes a bit overboard in getting there. Charlie seems more of a demented stalker than a man in love with the things he does; the film’s closing act feels out of place if only because in any sane world Cam would have a restraining order against him. Mark Helfrich, a long time editor, is in his first film and it shows. The script seems something that Judd Apatow would do, as Helfrich seems to not have the steadiest hand for the critical portion of the story.
Good Luck Chuck falls apart with this, leaving the film’s big finale a bit anti-climatic. We want Cam and Charlie to wind up together, but he doesn’t give us any reason to think so. It’s a case of trying to pack too much into too little screen time; it’s a marked departure of character that effectively ruins a remarkably good first hour of film-making.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):