This romantic-comedy has a great fantasy premise: having been hexed by a Goth Girl when he was a boy, Charlie (Dane Cook) grows up to be a charming but superficial young man, whose relationships crash and burn because they never flower into love; instead, after his girlfriends leave him, they inevitably find love and marriage with the very next guy they meet. Unfortunately, this potentially cute date movie turns out to be littered with crude comedy and tasteless jokes aimed at the frat house audience. The result is a very queasy mix – a bit like being at an entertaining party ruined by a some obnoxious loud-mouths shouting obscenities.
The screenplay by Josh Stollberg (based on a short story by Steve Glenn) makes some effort toward endearing us to Charlie. Although he is emotionally unavailable to the women he beds, we are supposed to see some integrity in him because he refuses to tell them the comforting lies they want to hear (leading to a quick departure). Things turn around for Charlie when word gets out that he is a good luck charm for women looking to get married. Suddenly, the office where he works as a dentist is filled with more beautiful women than that of his friend Stu (Dan Fogler, plumbing the depths of sleaze), who performs breast augmentation across the hall. At Stu’s urging, Charlie is willing to take advantage of the situation, rationalizing it by saying he is helping these women.
This is where the film goes foul. Charlie is supposed to be hexed, but instead of a curse, it comes across like a blessing, as director Mark Helfrich indulges in a montage of sex scenes that push the R-rating to the limit. There is some humor derived from the fact that the women are simply using Charlie, and there is a tiny bit of lip service telling the audience that this leaves Charlie feeling unsatisfied, but the visuals are clearly meant to be hot and heavy enough to reach a critical mass that ignites word-of-mouth, pulling in viewers eager for soft-core sexcapades on screen.
This undermines the film’s premise, which is that Charlie is searching for – but unable to find love – which comes to women only after they leave him. Instead of focusing on his dilemma, we get a series sexist jokes. For those keeping score at home, having sex with an overweight woman is an act of pity; having sex with an obese woman is a sick joke, the one obscenity too disgusting to actually show on screen.
By the time Charlie sets his sights on his true love, Cam (FANTASTIC FOUR’s Jessica Alba), GOOD LUCK CHUCK seems to be recapturing a lost thought. The comedy here works somewhat better: Charlie fears that sleeping with Cam will cause him to lose her to the next guy she meets, so he has to think of reasons to avoid her. Then when he slips up, he goes to outrageous lengths to prevent her from falling for the next guy.
Against the odds, Cook emerges as charming and likable, even when the script has him acting like an idiot. Alba is pretty as his true love, but her character barely has a personality: Cam likes penguins; she’s clumsy, and that’s about it. Also, in typical Hollywood fashion, we know she is the right girl because she is the one who does not expose her breasts on camera.
Unfortunately, the continued presence of Stu (who has a close, personal relationship with a grapefruit) prevents the film from ever getting its mind too far out of the gutter. Even after the hokey climax, when Charlie finally says the “L-word,” the film leaves us with a closing credits sequence that features (I kid you not) a woman with three breasts (Stu’s fiance, natch) watching a video of Charlie performing oral sex on one of Cam’s penguin dolls. It really is a moment that must be seen to be believed, but after it’s over you will probably wish you hadn’t believed it.
By the time it’s all over, you realize you have sat through the crudest pandering, the cinematic equivalent of reality shows like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire,” which began by offering up the archetypal male fantasy (lots of beautiful women to choose from) before shifting to the archetypal female fantasy (monogamous love and marriage). Unfortunately, in trying to be all things to both the male and the female audience, GOOD LUCK CHUCK winds up being not much of anything good.
GOOD LUCK CHUCK (Lionsgate, 2007). Direced by Mark Helfrich. Screenplay by Josh Stolberg, based on the short story by Steve Glenn. Cast: Dane Cook, Jessica Alba, Dan Fogler, Caroline Ford, Chelan Simmons, Natalie Morris, Elia English, Chang Tseng, Michael Teigen