According to legend, if Appellate Judge Tom Becker trashes your film, the next one will be a big success, so good luck, Dane Cook!
Get ready to get lucky!
The above charge is only true if you happen to pick up a copy of Good Luck Chuck and find that someone has accidentally replaced it with a DVD of Good Night, and Good Luck, The Goodbye Girl, Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales, Good Day for a Hanging…actually, if you find a frozen mini-pizza decomposing in the DVD box instead of this film, consider it an act of grace.
Yes, it's that bad.
Facts of the Case
Charlie Logan (Dane Cook, Mr. Brooks) is a "good luck charm" for single women. As soon as he goes to bed with them, they fall in love…with the next guy they meet. This harkens back to a curse put on him as a boy in the 1980s by an anachronistic Goth girl whose advances he spurned.
Thanks to the Internet rumor mill and the apparent stupidity of lonely-but-hot women everywhere, Charlie's penultimate penetration becomes popular. At first, he's more than happy to do his bit for the bridal industry, but like this film, it quickly becomes wearying. He has a chubby, oversexed little friend (no, not that "little friend") who can't imagine why Charlie is unhappy with his role as love machine.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Charlie meets the love of his life, Cam (Jessica Alba, Fantastic Four), an accident-prone yet beguiling beauty who works with penguins.
To win her, he must relinquish his role as the anti-climax for the single set. Done. But wait: The curse is still there, so if he and Cam conjugate, it means he'll have one foot out the door.
And there is this penguin expert she's mooning over.
Can Charlie keep it zipped long enough for love to find a way?
Good Luck Chuck wants to be an edgy, bittersweet, gross-out fest in the tradition of the Farrelly Brothers, but it's square, simpleminded, and predictable. Clean up the language and take away the tedious sex montage that happens a third of the way through, and you'd have a forgettable '60s sex farce, the kind that Jerry Lewis made between his delayed-adolescence films and his unreleased Holocaust epic.
Of course, even the worst Jerry Lewis film has something to something to recommend it, some inspired sight gag or bit of slapstick, some visual flair. Good Luck Chuck is a non-visual film. Aside from some topless bit players and the soft-core debut of Dane Cook, there is really nothing to see here. All the sets look the same, as though the producers rented a hotel room and just dressed it up to look like a doctor's office, an apartment, a restaurant, or whatever, and the camera is just plunked down and allowed to run. We get "funny" reaction shots so broad that they look like they were cribbed from silent movies. And just to fill out the already-bloated 101 minute running time, there are standard-issue musical montages.
The script, which should be clever and pointed, is just talky and dumb. Every joke, visual or otherwise, is discussed at length and falls flat. The fact that you can practically recite the lines as people say them doesn't help. Boring and obvious quips serve as punch lines for endless stretches of unfunny exposition. The whole thing is like an inept play-by-play of some other movie.
I'd never seen Dane Cook perform before, and in the interest of fairness, I'm going to pretend that I haven't seen him perform yet. Maybe he's more comfortable doing his own material, but in Good Luck Chuck, he's just an awkward guy with no sense of timing—a definite liability for someone playing a charming and witty stud. His voice is a monotone whine, his face robotic. As his horned-up sidekick, Dan Fogler sounds like he's auditioning for the George Costanza role in the local PTA's production of Seinfeld.
Jessica Alba is very pretty, and she keeps her game-face on when asked to do things like profess her love for the wooden Cook or climb into an unnatural position after her stunt double has executed a pratfall. By making her a clumsy, penguin-loving, down-to-earth goddess, it's clear that the filmmakers were looking to evoke memories of Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary. Just to make certain you don't miss it, the character is actually named "Cam." If they'd named Charlie "Shrek," this movie might have made more sense.
The picture looks fine, clear and clean. The 5.1 surround track makes it sound like Dane Cook is having sex in every corner of your house. There are several inconsequential extras, including "Polymastia," a featurette that explores the grueling special effects process that went into creating a two-second shot of a woman with three breasts; "Frank the Penguin Actor," in which a talented penguin wanders around the set while some guy "speaks" its thoughts; and the Interactive Sex Matrix, which stacks up all of Cook's sex scenes like a porno Brady Bunch opener and lets you click on them to see and hear something even funnier than Dane Cook thrusting and grunting, if you can imagine that.
The big bonus is an "Unrated Commentary" with Cook, first-time (and hopefully last-time) director Mark Helfrich, "writer" (for lack of a better word) Josh Stolberg, and producer Mike Karz, who also gave us the Katie Holmes treacle-fest First Daughter and Jamie Kennedy as Malibu's Most Wanted. These four have a much better time talking about the movie than I had watching it.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There are penguins.
Good Luck Chuck is not funny or sexy. It's boring and lazy. It's the kind of movie that leaves you wondering what they were thinking and who they thought would pay money to see it.
Guilty as a rug burn.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary with Dane Cook, Mark Helfrich, Mike Karz, and Josh Stolberg
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