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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Just My Luck

Just My Luck, another Lindsey Lohan movie, opened this week at the Essex Cinemas. Now I have done my best to embrace the alleged charms Ms. Lohan seems to bring to a faithful audience of teen girls, but as hard as I try I can’t help but feel that every time I see her I need to reach out an conduct a major intervention.

I’m sure everyone who watches a television talk show, picks up a magazine, or listens to water cooler gossip at work knows that Lindsey is the “it” girl of 2006, known less for her talent than her antics off screen and her unceasing exploits to gain attention. Why the media has chosen her as the reigning princess of trash is obvious. At 19, she has a long history of public intoxication and pot smoking, as well as a penchant for snorting anything in a white line. She’s admitted then denied that she is bulimic, as she has her obvious breast augmentation, and any number of other peculiar behaviors.

A few months ago she and Kate (“Who wants Pepsi when they can have Coke?”) Moss dazzled patrons of a New Jersey strip club by performing a graphic lesbian performance on the stripper’s pole at 3:00 am, and then littered the bathroom with disparaging graffiti about actress Scarlet Johannsen before leaving. Aside from that and a few car crashes, her overdosing in a bathroom at a club and then blaming it on an asthma attack even though she doesn’t have asthma, an odd penchant for declaring herself the new spokesmodel for different companies such as Chanel and Versace without consulting either of them first, she is a perfectly normal teenage girl. That is, a “normal” teenage girl who, in the last two years, has had public “romances”, i.e. done the horizontal hula with, the likes of singers Aaron Carter and Bryan Adams, actors Wilmer Valderrama, Christian Slater, Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell, and Jared Leto, director Brett Ratner, models James Burke and Jamie Dornan, and Paris Hilton cast-off Stavros Niarchos. No wonder the girl looks tired, and she does, indeed, look like she could use a rest in
Just My Luck. Frankly, her biggest bit of luck is that she hasn’t died yet or collapsed into a coma, which just proves how truly lucky she is.

Just my Luck naturally portrays the flip side of Lindsey Lohan’s image. As in all her movies, she is as squeaky clean as a Brady or a Cleaver. Here she is Ashley Albright, an up-and-coming junior executive at one of New York’s most prestigious advertising agencies. She is also the luckiest young woman in the world, even if she doesn’t know it. If it is raining and she goes outside the clouds part and the sun shines, if she needs a cab, four immediately stop when she raises her hand. If she looks on the sidewalk she will inevitably find a stray $20 bill. She’s just amazing. Unfortunately, her fate is about to change.

Her path crosses with Jake Hardin (Chris Pine, Confession) at a masquerade party, where, masked and anonymously, they share a kiss. What Ashley doesn’t know is that Jake has lived his life on the other side of luck and is the one who gets pooped on by birds just after a passing cab has splashed him with mud. He works cleaning toilets in a bowling alley and even that job is in jeopardy. He could use some luck and ~ voila! ~ somehow the kiss transfers all of Ashley’s good fortune to him with neither of them knowing it or one another.

What follows is a very funny comedy of errors as Ashley adjusts to her new life of misery. She gets fired, her apartment is flooded with sewage and she has nowhere to live, and at one point she even finds herself sharing a cell with a disagreeable jailbird whose goal in life is to blacken both of Ashley’s eyes. Meanwhile Jake’s got himself a limo, a penthouse, and a new career managing the real life boy band McFly, who play several numbers in the movie and do well as actors playing themselves.

Inevitably, the two will cross paths again, and, this being a romantic comedy, love will blossom. But what happens when they kiss again? That is the crux of the climax, and the answer is both unexpected and infinitely more satisfying than most would predict.

Just My Luck is not going to win Oscars, but it is a fun romp for a couple of hours. I’ll admit that I did worry a bit about Chris Pine. I know they don’t film these things in sequence, but after the first kiss I sat up a little straighter and every time he came on screen I found myself searching his face for telltale signs of exposure to something Lohan may have given him. I’m sorry, but it’s true. After all, people, Lohan did star in Herpes Fully Loaded. Okay, I know it was really Herbie Fully Loaded, but it should have been called the former, all things considered, and I say that in a loving and caring way.

Poor Lindsey, she really does turn in a capable performance here, not stellar, but good enough to be credible and her comedic timing is great. Unfortunately, her off-screen reputation makes it hard not to turn her every movie into an audience participation treat ala The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She’s just such an easy target, mostly from being just so easy. If you can forget for two hours that in real life Lindsey has examined more male privates than a regiment of Army urologists then you can actually believe that Ashley is the luckiest girl in the world. Just My Luck, I was able to do it and found that in spite of my prejudices I had a good time.

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