Tag Archives: 2007

Good Luck Chuck (2007)



Starring: Dane Cook, Jessica Alba, Dan Fogler, Lonny Ross
Director: Mark Helfrich
Screenwriter: Josh Stolberg

I had a bad feeling about going to see this movie and I tried to convince my friend not to go, but my main two arguments -“I have never seen anything funny starring Dane Cook” and “I do not think Jessica Alba is an actress”- somehow failed against “You have never seen one of his stand-ups” (true) and “She is hot” (also true). While reading Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 Worst Movies Ever, I came across this title, and I remembered my pain and suffering and regret over spending about $10 (including popcorn and soda) on something so excruciating that it made my root canal appointment seem like Disneyland.

“Good Luck Chuck” tells the improbable tale of a dentist (yes, that is exactly why I said root canal), Charlie Logan (Dane Cook), who has a unique quality: every woman he dates/sleeps with ends up marrying the next guy she meets. He was hexed when he was a child, and now, in adulthood, his current status and reputation helps him get so many women he cannot keep up with, because evidently he is the gateway to women’s heaven: marriage (gag me!) . He meets and falls in love with Cam (Jessica Alba), a penguin zookeeper, that is the ideal mix of beauty and smarts, but she has a twist too: she is clumsy to the extreme. Shenanigans ensue. Of course he has an obnoxious fat friend whose only purpose is to make him look like a prince because he does not pretend he’s somebody else to get laid and he does not fuck a grapefruit on his spare time. Of course her constantly falling and generally being embarrassing to the human race is charming. Of course they love each other but the „situational comedy” keeps them apart. Of course Dane Cook is funny. And of course Jessica Alba could be a scientist.

One of this movie’s major flaws is that it is simply not funny.  I can take slapstick humor. I can take dirty jokes („Clerks”, anyone?). I can suspend my disbelief that such people could possibly exist on an oxygenated planet. I really have no problem with very beautiful women coupled with generic looking men (I liked „Knocked Up”). I can see the charm of a funny man (fine, I admit: I am a Seth Rogen fan). I do not expect life lessons or philosophy out of a comedy script. I laughed during „The Proposal”, for God’s sake, and it was about two walking clichés bantering! But when I go to see a comedy, romantic or otherwise, it better be funny. It better have at least one fresh, innovative, clever joke, and at least ten mediocre ones. And the leads do not have to be Oscar winners, but they better have the charisma and comedic timing to pull through the delivery of lines without making it seem like a school play where everybody is looking at their mommy in the audience for approval.

The second is the leads’ lack of appeal. I do not want to start talking about acting skills, because this particular script has no need for them, not even Meryl Streep can resuscitate this train wreck. But to manage to gain the audience, to make everybody root for the main characters, they need to be likeable. Dane Cook may be a great guy and a worthy actor, but he just makes you want bad shit to happen to him. On screen, that is. He is like Ashton Kutcher: not as funny as he thinks he is, and desperately trying to prove his genius. Even Demi’s husband seems more relaxed when “acting”, and his Twitter persona seems like a genuinely nice guy. But the 30 year old man-child shtick is not attractive and not amusing; it’s just boring and overdone. And Jessica is a pleasure to watch, she really brightens the screen every time she smiles, too bad her role has her talking.  She deserves her spot on any “most beautiful” top, but I think she and Jessica Biel have the same problem: nobody takes beauty seriously. Next think you know, they will declare it a handicap and ask for damages. Because Charlize Theron is ugly, did you not see “Monster”?

Overall, a movie already forgotten by almost everybody except Rotten Tomatoes and me, and a step by step demo of how easy it is to make millions even without direction, script, actors or a plausible premise: just take a funnyman and a vixen; throw in some sex and bathroom jokes, cute animals, over promote the hell out of it and voila: the movie everybody saw and nobody wanted to see.

Good Luck Chuck (2007)

Elite Squad (2007)



Starring : Wagner Moura, Caio Junqueira, Andre Ramiro

Director : Jose Padihla

Writer : John Kaylin, Braulio Mantovani, Jose Padilha,Rodrigo Pimentel.  based on a book by Andre Batista, Rodrigo Pimentel and Luiz Eduardo Soares

Rating : R for strong violence, pervasive language and drug content.

1997, Rio de Janeiro. The streets are filled with murder and corruption. Drug trafficking is at an all time high. Things are so bad, that the police cannot handle it anymore, especially since most of them are corrupt as well. The answer to the city’s problems is given by BOPE, a paramilitary team that strikes where the police cannot and fight fire with fire. The story of “Elite Squad” involves both the struggles of life on the streets of Rio de Janeiro and the inner-workings of BOPE, with both the style and narrative drive of movies like “Cidade de Deus”.

There are a few characters the story focuses on. Captain Nascimento from BOPE whose work is starting to leave scars on his morale, and with the stress of his wife expecting a child, he finds himself wanting to get out of the team. Neto and Matias, childhood friends and idealistic policemen, who by trying to do the right thing, end up almost losing their lives in the war with corruption, so they decide to join BOPE, just in time as Nascimento needs to find someone to replace him.  And that is the basic setup of the story.

The narrative threads are interweaved in a fragmented manner, and the story moves at a breakneck pace that might discourage unsuspecting viewers. Halfway through, though, the story starts to make its intentions clearer, and you can easily see how it settles into more conventional territory. It’s not that the story itself isn’t clear enough, but it kind of removes a lot of backstory that was probably there in the book, so there’s a lot of information that you have to read between the lines. It’s also very distracting, because it has some excellent cinematography, and choppy editing, reminiscent of “Cidade de Deus”, that will make you forget to pay attention to the story. In terms of character development, I would say it does a wonderfull job of creating living and breathing characters that you can relate to and care for. Their inner turmoils, their struggle for survival, their love and friendship, is all painted in vivid colors. Most importantly, though this is a very violent, sometimes action oriented film, it does a great job of not losing its characterizations in a sea of blood and gunshots.

To be perfectly honest, when I first heard the film won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival, I rolled my eyes, and thought, “of course they would do that, because it’s clone of “Cidede de Deus” with similar social themes. But as I watched it, I realized that the two films are completely different. They share only the cinematic style of telling the story, but the story itself and the issues it deals with are different in tone, especially because of the police thriller approach. This is story that deals with violence and corruption in a harsher way. It’s also very straightforward about its “fight violence with violence” message. BOPE is not seen as an abusive force, but as necessary anti-heroes in a world gone crazy. It never tries to shutdown the issue, or turn to more liberal politics. It gives us a hard reality to swallow, regardless of out political convictions. Captain Nascimento and his men don’t care about politics. They hate corruption and will stop at nothing to erradicate it.