Lionsgate // 2009 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // March 25th, 2009
He can't hold onto a job...how's he gonna hold on to 10 million?
The Life of Lucky Cucumber is an independent film, directed by Sam Maccarone, co-written by Maccarone and Preston Lacy, and co-produced by Maccarone, Lacy, and eight other individuals. In a recent blog post, Maccarone described his film as "Freddy Got Fingered meets The English Patient," and offers this piece of advice to potential viewers: "Please ignore the reviews...those critics are idiots." If Lacy's credentials as a contributor to the National Lampoon and Jackass film franchises impress you enough to want to take his word for it, by all means, check out The Life of Lucky Cucumber. You're probably the ideal audience member. However, those of you who read the back of the DVD case, promising that the film is a mockumentary, "in the style of Christopher Guest," and boasting "originality of vision comparable to Napoleon Dynamite," you might want to hear me out. Don't worry, I'll keep it brief: This film is bad.
Now, I make an attempt to be patient with super-low-budget films like this. Obviously, it's going to be a challenge for a couple of guys working on a shoestring budget to reach the same level of technical prowess as films that had millions to work with. Making a successful mockumentary is a bit of a challenge, and the Maccarone/Lacy team is still relatively new to the world of filmmaking. Alas, even if the small offenses are forgiven, brownie points are given, and the loose change is rounded up to the nearest dollar...The Life of Lucky Cucumber still falls devastatingly short of being anything remotely resembling an acceptable piece of entertainment. It really does fail on just about every level.
The film begins by introducing us to Philip Fellini (played by Maccarone) and Forrest Fonda (played by Lacy), two aspiring documentarians who have been given a $1200 grant to make a film about a rural southern town. Instead, the two filmmakers decide to spend the money creating a documentary about a local legend named Lucky Cucumber (Dian Bachar, Orgazmo). Fellini proves to be a real hack when it comes to directing (there's a string of words I never thought I'd write), and Fonda is equally incompetent when it comes to editing. Their film falls to pieces quickly, and both men are quick to blame each other for the film's problems. Fellini accuses Fonda of laziness, and Fonda accuses Fellini of bringing back, "@#$%! dailies."
I suspect the reason the dailies are @#$%! has a lot to do with the fact that Lucky Cucumber is an incredibly uninteresting subject. During the film's opening sequence, we're told that Lucky is the luckiest guy around, and thus he is a local legend. The film only seems to follow this premise half the time, with Lucky veering back and forth between being incredibly lucky and typically unlucky. Through all of this, Bachar fails to give the character any sort of personality. He's kind of lucky, kind of not. Kind of stupid, kind of normal. Kind of mean, kind of sweet. The only thing Lucky Cucumber is whole-heartedly committed to is extreme dullness. Throughout the film, Lucky is surrounded by a series of obnoxiously "colorful" characters: a horny grandpa who swears a lot, some local meth addicts who love to treat Lucky badly, an old man whose face has been burned off, and so on. As is typically the case in Low-I.Q. Films like this one, the female characters are nothing more than one-dimensional sex objects or the butt of cruel, chauvinist jokes. I really grow weary of this sort of nonsense.
The film only runs 81 minutes, but it feels very, very padded. At about the half-hour mark, I began frequently checking the "time remaining" button and growing increasingly despondent about the fact that the film wasn't over. The Life of Lucky Cucumber actually has the most drawn-out ending I have witnessed in quite a while. At the 60-minute mark, it does the "Where are they Now?" feature, which catches up with all the characters months later (as Christopher Guest often does with much funnier results). This is followed by an "epilogue" in which we find out where the characters are after the "Where are they now?" segment. As if that weren't enough, another few minutes are devoted to a memorial for one of the film's deceased characters. Then a full 8 minutes of end credits roll. Gracious goodness, kids. Talking about beating a dead horse.
The transfer is a bit on the weak side, with some poor lighting choices leading to a lot of murky images throughout. The level of detail is reasonably solid, but otherwise the film isn't particularly good-looking. Audio is definitely sub-par, with a lot of dialogue sounding distant and poorly-recorded. Distortion also appears from time to time. Musical choices throughout are suspect, often working against any potential comedy. In films both large and small, too few films fail to realize that silly music rarely makes anything funnier. The supplements include two short films. The first is called "Spider Men," in which two dude dress up as Spider-Man and act like jerks. The second is called "My Dick, My Dick," in which Lucky Cucumber gets a giant red-hot pepper stick inside his member. The explanation for this is too nasty to describe here. Finally, there are 24 deleted scenes. There is no "Play All" option, so if you want to watch them, you'll have to click on each one individually. Bah!
Guilty, guilty, guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Short Films