This summer's real disaster movie was "Just My Luck," a gruesome trainwreck of a film in which no one says or does anything even remotely resembling what a real person would say or do in the same situation. Every single scene is an abominable assemblage of mind-boggling stupidity, completely unmotivated behavior, and unfunny slapstick. I haven't been as frustrated and enraged by a film's all-out idiocy since ... well, since "She's the Man" two months earlier. But before THAT, it had been a long time.
The premise is that a super-lucky woman and a very unlucky man meet at a masquerade ball, share a kiss, and in so doing reverse their fortunes. Now miserably unlucky, the woman has to find the mysterious stranger she kissed, kiss him again, and switch everything back again.
Now, here's the thing: I don't even have a problem with that premise. It's a fantasy premise, like the boy waking up as a grown man in "Big," or the mothers and daughters switching roles in the various "Freaky Friday" movies. There was a Spanish film a few years ago called "Intacto," where "luck" was an actual commodity that you could take from people and use for yourself. All of those films work just fine.
But the reason they work is that they execute their premises logically. When Josh wakes up 20 years older in "Big," his mom doesn't just say, "You're an adult now?! Wow, that is WEIRD! Anyway, here's breakfast." No, she freaks out and thinks there's a stranger in her house -- exactly what a real person would do.
"Just My Luck," as you may have guessed, does the opposite. It doesn't even adhere to real definitions of luck. Most of the "unlucky" events in the film are the result of the person being clumsy or stupid. A bird crapping on your jacket, that's bad luck. Dealing with a malfunctioning hair dryer by dropping it in the bathtub and then turning the water on, that's just being retarded. The only "bad luck" involved is that apparently your parents were first cousins, you moron.
Lindsay Lohan plays the lucky girl, Ashley Albright, a Manhattan public relations exec who can always catch a cab, whose lottery scratch-offs are always winners (so why doesn't she play Powerball and make some REAL cash?), whose entire life is a series of fortunate events. Her friends Maggie (Samaire Armstrong) and Dana (Bree Turner) are envious of her luck, and Ashley herself has come to expect that everything will always be rosy. She's a little smug about it, in fact.
Then there's Jake Hardin (Chris Pine), a bowling alley employee and would-be music producer whose "bad luck" manifests itself early on when he bends over and rips his pants -- a legitimately unlucky event. Now, why a tear in the seat of his pants would cause them to keep falling down after that, I have no idea, but that's what happens. Somehow the tear in the back renders the waistband unsound, too. My best guess is that the people who made the film have never actually worn pants before and are unfamiliar with how they operate. ("If he rips them, they won't be able to stay up, right?" "I don't know -- I think so!" "Does anyone here know how pants work?")
Anyway, they meet at a masquerade party thrown by Ashley's company, they go for a dance, and they kiss. There is no reason for this. Ashley, in fact, has just met a guy named David (Chris Carmack) whom she adores, and her encounter with Jake is far too brief to end so intimately. The kiss comes out of nowhere. Four people are credited just for writing the STORY on this film, and none of them could come up with a reason for Ashley and Jake to kiss?
The smooch means that Jake has "gotten lucky" in both senses, while Ashley suddenly finds everything going wrong in her life. When a fortune teller -- yes, OMG, a fortune teller, crystal ball and everything -- tells Ashley she'll get her luck back if she can find the stranger and kiss him again, she sets out to do just that. She thinks he was one of the dancers hired to perform at the party, so she tracks the dancers down, one by one, and plants a kiss on each of them, then scratches off a lottery ticket to see if her luck is back.
Yes, she just bounds up and kisses the guys. Here is what she doesn't do instead:
1. ASK each man, "Did we meet at the masquerade party the other night?"
2. LOOK at each man to see if he resembles the guy she kissed. He was wearing a mask, yes, but it only covered his eyes.
No, she just kisses them.
She eventually meets Jake under other circumstances, of course, and neither of them realizes they have met before. The band he's been backing, a British teenage pop-suck group called McFly, has hit it big with music mogul Damon Phillips (Faizon Love), and they're about to play at the new Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. This would be a TERRIBLE time for Jake's luck to run out!
I want to describe a particular series of events in the movie. See how many times you think, "Wha---?!" as you read.
During her unlucky phase, Ashley drops her contact lens in the cat's litter box, then puts it back in her eye without washing it off first. (Remember, in this movie, "unlucky" means "mentally handicapped.") This causes an infection that requires her to wear an eye patch while on a date with her dreamy new beau David, yet David never asks why she's wearing an eye patch, or indeed even seems to notice it.
The date is at an art museum where David's mother has an exhibition. It's "modern art," and it's just a big pile of mud being squirted out of a tube. Ashley trips over something and falls into the art, getting mud all over her face. We cut immediately to Ashley having her mugshot taken and being locked in a jail cell.
So ... it's against the law to trip over something at an art museum? Clumsiness in a public art facility is a class B misdemeanor? EXPLAIN YOURSELF, MOVIE!
(Oh, and the next morning, Ashley is released from jail, even though no one has bailed her out. Apparently whatever her crime was, it's one of those where they just lock you up for a few hours and then let you go.)
The director, Donald Petrie, is a veteran in the field of shlock production -- "Richie Rich," "My Favorite Martian," "Miss Congeniality" and "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" are just a few of his offenses -- but even Spielberg couldn't have made anything good out of this idiotic, dull-witted screenplay.
Likewise, though Lohan and her co-stars mostly phone in their performances, the acting is the least of the film's problems. If a story has no wit or sense, no amount of deft comic acting can save it.
There is no reason to see this movie. It will not make you laugh. It will only make you sad.
You can watch the film in widescreen (the way it appeared in theaters) or, on the other side of the disc, in "fullscreen" (with the sides chopped off so it's the same almost-square shape as your TV). If you prefer the latter version -- without "those annoying black bars" on the top and bottom of the screen -- then you deserve this movie.
There are also alternate Spanish and French soundtracks, and optional English and Spanish subtitles.
VIDEO: The anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) looks fine, as you should expect from a movie that's less than four months old. The pan-and-scan version probably looks the same, though I refuse to dignify its existence by watching it.
AUDIO: It's Dolby 5.1 Digital, as clear and well-mixed and nicely balanced as it's supposed to be. No sir, the audio and video are not at issue with "Just My Luck."
EXTRAS: The extras are scanty, and Fox has made the annoying decision to split them up: The bulk are on one side of the disc, while a last one is one the other side. What's more, most of them are on the "fullscreen" side, implying that's the preferred way to watch the movie.
"Look of Luck" (2:36) is a brief featurette about the movie's costume design. A more useless and unnecessary feature I cannot imagine. "I'm really happy that we were pretty much true to everything that we started out to do," says the costume designer. It's good to know that no artistic integrity was compromised in the dressing of the characters.
Then there are three deleted/extended scenes. "Sushi Restaurant" (1:16) is an extension of the part where Ashley's credit card gets declined; "Bank" (3:00) has both Ashley and Jake, still unknown to each other, having hijinks at a bank; and "Mailcart" (2:13) has Ashley sneaking back in to her former workplace. Of the three, only the "Bank" one is worthwhile, and that's because it has Stephen Tobolowsky (you'll recognize him when you see him) as a loan officer, doing funny work while all around him is crap.
On the other side of the disc (the widescreen side) is one more extra, a behind-the-scenes featurette about McFly (8:37), the real-life band featured in the film. Specifically, it's about filming the climactic concert scene. It's a mildly interesting "how movies are made" kind of thing, but if you had any doubts about the film doubling as a promotional tool for a band you've never heard of, those doubts will be put to rest here.
Apart from it being a terrible movie, the DVD treatment isn't so hot either, what with the skimpy extras. Those who loved the movie should wait for the $5.99 bin rather than buying it at full price, and everyone else should stay away altogether.
(Note: Most of the "movie review" portion of this article comes from the review I wrote when the movie was released theatrically. I have re-watched it in the course of reviewing the DVD, however, or at least most of it. I could only take so much.)