Susan Granger’s review of “Lucky” (Phase 4 Films)
Everyone dreams about winning the lottery and marrying their one true love – but perhaps not in that order.
When befuddled, bashful Benjamin Keller wins $36 million in the Iowa State Lottery, he’s stunned, particularly because the ticket was purchased at a convenience store by Leslie Singer, whose dead body is stuffed in his mother’s basement closet. Suddenly, Lucy St. Martin (Ari Graynor), the girl he’s adored since childhood, stops trying to avoid him and, in fact, is eager to marry him. It’s only later – on their lavish honeymoon in Hawaii – that she begins to suspect something’s awry.
But, as an avowed gold-digger and compulsive shopper, Lucy is not about to surrender the cash cow, just because she stumbles across Singer’s corpse.
“Maybe we rushed into this,” Lucy says. “I just need to know that you will never hurt me.”
Enigmatic Ben promises he never will, explaining, “I just can’t handle the thought of you being mad at me.”
Besides, his mother, Pauline (Ann-Margret), has never been so happy.
As the body count casually grows, so do the suspicions of a persistent detective (Jeffrey Tambor), who knows that he’s hot on the trail of a cold-blooded murderer.
More than 10 years ago, “Saturday Night Live” writer Kent Sublette and writer/director Gil Cates Jr., who became friends at Syracuse University, came up with this quirky, bizarre concept about a serial killer winning the lottery. Problem is: the script has no cohesiveness and the pace is too slow. Gil Cates Jr. is the son of the longtime producer of the Academy Award telecasts. He made his directorial debut with “Spent” (1999) and has since completed “The Mesmerist: A Midsummer Night’s Rave,” “Order of Chaos,” “Life After Tomorrow” and “Deal.”
Unlike many sons of famous fathers, Colin Hanks seems to delight his status, and the script contains a joke about Ben and a Whitman’s Sampler, filled with various chocolates, evoking memories of his father’s “Forrest Gump” role.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Lucky” is a surprising 6, a dark, deeply deranged comedy.