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Monday, September 24, 2007

Good Luck Chuck

The guys working at the Essex Cinemas had been waiting the past few months for the new movie Good Luck Chuck to finally open because they have been hoping, expecting, and craving with great anticipation the opportunity of seeing Jessica Alba’s luscious talents on display. My favorite firefighter, Austin Whitaker, even snagged a copy of the teaser poster so he could enjoy the provocative shot of Ms. Alba suggestively licking the dribbling vanilla ice cream cone in her hand shaped more than accidently as a vaguely phallic symbol. This is, after all, an R-rated sex comedy, and the boys at the Essex Cinemas are like a microcosm of American men. They want themselves some Jessica Alba as naked as they can get her.

Poor Austin and the rest of the guys. The joke’s on them in this case. If anyone is flashing their naked chesticles in this silly romp it is the male lead, Dane Cook (Mr. Brooks) as Charlie, a dentist with a problem most men would consider a blessing instead of a curse. Charlie, you see, was cursed by a spooky looking girl when he was ten and playing a game of “Spin the Bottle.” Cursed, you ask? Yep, to a life of being the guy that will never have true love because all the girls he dates will fall in love with the next guy they meet after being with him. That was quite a hex from a little kid, and it was laughed off then and forgotten about for years until…

Charlie’s childhood best friend Stu (Dan Fogler; Balls of Fury), the sleaziest cosmetic surgeon ever born, puts two and two together and realizes that all of the women Charlie has bedded in his adult life have gotten married to the men they met immediately after sleeping with Charlie. When he tells this to his buddy, Charlie thinks Stu is nuts and ignores the story until he runs into his last conquest as she is trying on a bridal gown. Then he starts finding his dental practice is developing a whole new clientele. The elderly men with denture problems have been replaced by busty blondes in short skirts looking to get their cavities filled. They have all heard about the hex and want to take advantage of it.

Dr. Charlie isn’t one to turn down a good thing, and so being the good dentist that he is he takes out his trusty drill and tells patient after patient to open wide. This goes on without conscience until one day he meets the girl of his dreams, Cam Wexler (Jessica Alba; Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer), a penguin keeper at AquaWorld. Who doesn’t immediately fall for a girl with the smell of rotting fish on her fingertips?

This being an American movie, there isn’t going to be a resolution in a ménage a trois or ménage a quatorze or whatever. The only answer is for Charlie to give up the business of pleasuring the masses for their future happiness with others in order to ensure his own happiness with Cam. He also has to figure out how to de-hex himself before he and Cam can become intimate, and herein lies much of the comedy of Good Luck Chuck.

Dane Cook does a much better job here than he has in his previous comedy film Employee of the Month. Perhaps it is the script; perhaps it is his co-star, or perhaps he is just improving at his craft, but I actually enjoyed Cook’s performance and found him sincere and believable even in the most unbelievable of circumstances. Alba, as usual, is sexy without even trying. She effortlessly turns in a performance that appears spontaneous and fresh. Her willingness to play klutziness and take pratfalls in the best “I Love Lucy” tradition makes me want to like her more than ever before. She flawlessly makes herself look stupid in public, a trait that any woman who is not supermodel material is happy to see. It can’t help but bring the icon down off the pedestal and make her more human and thus likeable as a character and as an actress. Whatever one might think of this project overall, Good Luck Chuck will prove a good choice for Jessica in terms of broadening her fan base.

The worst addition to the cast is the grating and consistently annoying Dan Fogler as Stu. He reminded me of a young version of the late Sam Kiniston sans the constant screaming. His entire performance seems to be based on being as adolescent and obnoxious as possible. Unfortunately, he succeeds far too often and far too well. He is a cosmetic surgeon simply because he gets to have women take off their blouses and show him their breasts. And Charlie turns to this moron for advice? I’d rather get cooking tips from my cousin Janelle (from Hell) who you probably remember from my review of Halloween. If anything outright ruins Good Luck Chuck I’d say it is the inclusion of Fogler and his entire character as it is written. Charlie himself has some endearing and sensitive traits: we learn that every year he goes to South America and works with the poor to improve their dental health and hygiene as a kind of missionary work on his own. He also offered himself up to his heartsick and greatly embarrassed secretary, an obese woman who had been widowed for years and thought she would never find love again. When she tells him he can close his eyes and think of someone else (because of her size) he assures her he will only think of her. Now that was a lovely touch in a rude enough comedy where he could have gone for the obvious fat joke. Actually, screenwriter Josh Stolberg (Kids in America) does just that, of course, in the following scene with Charlie and Stu as Stu discovers where Charlie spent the previous night. It made me want to bitch-slap Stolberg until Star Jones tells me to stop.

Those looking for outright soft-porn in this R-rated comedy are going to have to be satisfied with the quick montages of Charlie’s sexcapades with the dozens of women he meets before Cam. These are flashed quickly in multiple split screen boxes (as many as 16 at a time) but there’s way more talk than action for everyone but Charlie. Unless you want to see Dane Cook naked, and you will see a whole lot more of him than anybody else, and by ‘more’ I mean MORE, not just more, then you’ll be fine. For the guys like Austin, they’ll be disappointed to learn what I read in a press packet about Jessica Alba. She has a “no nudity” clause in all her contracts, so take that for what you will. Even with the movies, you still need a little imagination. Sorry, Austin.

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