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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Life of Lucky Cucumber
The Life of Lucky Cucumber
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // March 17, 2009
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Cornelius | posted March 31, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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Oh, man. Where to begin?

How about the end: After the closing credits finally stop rolling for "The Life of Lucky Cucumber," low budget trash maven Lloyd Kaufman pops up to explain that not only is the movie you just watched so bad the big studios won't release it, but it's so bad Kaufman's own Troma Films won't touch it, either. The scene's meant to be tongue in cheek, with everyone laughing at themselves for producing a cheapjack gross-out flick, while maybe earning some cult video cred by featuring Kaufman. But it's impossible to laugh. "Lucky Cucumber" is indeed a terrible little movie, so slipshod and lazy that no, Troma wouldn't sully their bad name with it. (The film is instead released by Xenon Pictures, that last stop on the map for no-budget amateur schlock.)

"Lucky Cucumber" is written by Preston Lacy, formerly of "Jackass," and Sam Maccarone, formerly of several National Lampoon movies, including the Paris Hilton disaster "Pledge This!" They previously made "National Lampoon's TV: The Movie," and reunite here; again, Maccarone also directs, and both take lead roles, this time playing filmmakers "Philip Fellini" and "Forrest Fonda."

The result is something of a mockumentary, a genre chosen by many low budget hopefuls since it's forgiving of shoddy camerawork (we couldn't afford a tripod on purpose!) and encouraging of improvisation by the cast (looks like we won't have to write as much!). The premise, we are told in the first of hundreds of on-screen title cards, is that Fellini and Fonda have set out to find an elusive cave-dwelling redneck named Lucky "Cucumber" Cavanaugh, which begs a question: why isn't the movie called "The Life of Cucumber Cavanaugh"? Why does the title treat his nickname like a last name, and his first name like a nickname? This is why you don't name your characters while you're stoned.

The duo find Lucky right away, which is supposed to be a joke, I guess - all that build-up for such a dopey too-quick payoff. But by finding their "elusive" target within the first five minutes of the running time, Maccarone and Lacy reveal they don't have any idea what they want their movie to be about. Indeed, for a long while, there's nothing on screen but ad-libbed mini-scenes of Lucky hanging out with Fellini. From there, the movie breaks off into dozens of half-baked notions: Lucky, Fellini, and Fonda each get their own separate storylines, mixed with fantasy sequences, rap videos, fake movie trailers, meth addicts, wild parties, and "wacky" montages where two old guys (one of which is a not-old guy in a crummy old guy mask) partying with a topless blonde.

More title cards pop up now and then to try to paste it all together, but they're barely trying. I wonder if such a ramshackle approach was intended, or if money ran out during filming and Maccarone was left to paste together whatever was available.

What's left is a heap of unfunny sex jokes, limp slapstick, and spoofs that would've been tired years ago. When Fonda becomes a gangsta rapper (ha ha! a white guys rapping!), Rapper Tech N9ne (yes, that's how it's spelled) and some booty shakers stop by to extend the lame joke. Fellini, meanwhile, is later seen as a successful director of gay porn, which here means homophobic jokes about lisping and dildos. (There's also a lengthy skit called - wait for it - "Bi-Tanic." You know, like that movie that came out twelve years ago, but with gay guys!)

Lucky, by the way, is played by Dian Bachar, who somehow parlayed his "South Park" connections (he once co-starred in "BASEketball" and "Orgazmo") into a series of starring roles in low budget comedies, including several National Lampoon cheapies. (And yes, "TV: The Movie" was one of them.) You can really see him trying here, and his low-key style is appreciated in a movie crammed with mugging. But he's stuck in a character that's not even poorly developed - it's just not developed, period. The script is so unfocused that the best description of its title character is that he's a selfish jerk who's not a selfish jerk. Maybe the filmmakers were aiming for a lovable loser who behaves crassly, but that would imply they were aiming for anything.

As best I can tell, the whole thing takes place in somewhere called "J-Town." This is not a nickname, but the town's actual name. The writers couldn't even be bothered to come up with a location, although I suppose such work would get in the way of all those outdated gay jokes.

The DVD

Video & Audio


"Lucky Cucumber" looks pretty cheap in this 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. There's an endless supply of artifacting and grain in darker scenes, perhaps a fault of the original digital video source. Colors are flat and images are often a bit soft.

The 5.1 surround mix keeps all the dialogue up front while pumping music a bit too eagerly into the rear speakers. Dialogue levels are usually decent, although the cheapness of the production leaves a few scenes badly recorded. No subtitles are offered.

Extras

24 deleted scenes (approx. 33:19 total; 1.78:1 flat letterbox) run about a minute or two apiece and reveal more of the ramshackle nature of the production. There are plenty of half-formed ideas, extra character interviews, and brief one-joke moments, all of which could've easily been swapped into the final cut without changing a thing. Blah.

"Spider Men" (4:47; 1.33:1 full frame) is billed as a "short film," but it's really just home video, set to some generic metal song, of Maccarone and Bachar dressing up in flimsy Spider-Man costumes and wandering the streets of L.A. on the opening day of "Spider-Man 3." Meh.

The tastefully titled "My Dick, My Dick" (4:55; 1.78:1 letterbox) is also not quite a "short film." This one features Maccarone and Bachar in character as Fellini and Lucky, essentially making this another deleted scene. Here, Lucky has sex with a large woman (ha ha! fat chicks!), only to be left with burning genitals. Sheesh.

The film's clumsy trailer (1:26; 1.78:1 letterbox) rounds out the disc. Previews for "Kenny," "National Lampoon's TV: The Movie," "Fubar," and "Dolemite" play as the disc loads. Yawn.

Final Thoughts

"Lucky Cucumber" is twenty kinds of lousy, offered up here in a chintzy transfer with unfunny extras. Skip It.
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