Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good Luck Chuck: Generally Bad Sex Farce With A Lot Of Nudity (Yea!).

The Good: Well, there IS a lot of sex in the movie.
The Bad: Not funny, Utterly predictable, Obvious
The Basics: It's a poor day for Jessica Alba, yet again, with Good Luck Chuck, a dumb sex farce without any real heart.

Every time I take note of a comedy about sex, a Beavis & Butthead laugh and voice goes through my head with a mental "Heh, heh. . . sex." I suppose having sexual ethics is boring and passe, but it does make movies based entirely on sexual folly rather dull and pointless. And to nip in the bud: I am not one of those people who thinks there ought to be less sex in movies or on television. In fact, I'm all for more. I just like it to have a reasonable context and to actually be interesting.

This whole idea was driven home to me a few days ago when I was writing an erotic scene for the last book I wrote. It has been years since I wrote such a scene and after all of this time, I was concerned with the writing appearing too technical or mechanical. So, I consulted a friend of mine and had a frank discussion about erotica. His verdict was one that made sense to me: the measure of success for erotic writing is whether or not it effectively satisfies the target audience. Does it titillate in the way it is intended the people it is intended to titillate? I mention this before diving head first into a review of Good Luck Chuck because while there is a lot of sex in the movie, it is not an erotic or even vaguely interesting movie.

Cursed by a Goth chick as a kid while playing spin-the-bottle at a birthday party, Charlie is rumored to be a sexual good-luck charm. He is cursed to be without love for his life, though he will inspire love in those around him. As a result, anyone who has sex with Chuck will meet and fall in love with the man (or woman) of their dreams after the encounter. After yet another marriage of an ex-, Chuck and his best friend Stu buy into the mythos. Stu convinces Chuck to allow himself to be promiscuous and enjoy the noncommittal sex from women throwing themselves at Chuck in order to meet their Mr. Right afterwards.

Soon after he allows himself to go wild, though, Chuck meets Cam, a beautiful biologist who is completely in love with penguins. Initially cold to Chuck, Cam warms up to him right around the time that Chuck realizes he does not want her to move on from him after they consummate their relationship. He tries desperately to break the curse and keep Cam interested, going over-the-top in his attempts to achieve both goals.

I have, largely, made a point of avoiding the sex farce movies. Because of an appreciation of Judd Apatow's early works, I ended up seeing The 40 Year Old Virgin (reviewed here!) and was not impressed. Similarly, it was only because I had free tickets that I went to Sex Drive (reviewed here!) and found myself pleasantly surprised by that. But in generally, I have avoided the formulaic "lose your virginity" movies since well before American Pie hit theaters. It just hasn't so much interested me, probably because that part of my life is so far behind me and because it always seems to juvenile and stupid to waste that first time for just anything or any one. So, I went into Good Luck Chuck with remarkably low expectations.

Good Luck Chuck lived down to my expectations. It is worth noting that while Good Luck Chuck is a pretty lousy movie, it could have been much worse and this did not fall below my best estimate of what the movie could be. It's a dumb premise, executed as well as can be expected given how much of the premise determines the course of the movie. And this is a ridiculously predictable movie.

Charlie is hardly an empathetic character and his sidekick Stu is, of course, even worse. Chuck's main downfall is that he lets Stu convince him to stop caring either about the desperate women he has sex with in order to "help" find their true love or himself for treating himself so cheaply. So when he finally does fall for Cam, after a long line of Hollywood-beautiful women, the viewer's thought is more or less "why her?!" If only Chuck had been so interested in character before her odds are he would have been just as happy with virtually any other woman he, uh, banged.

So, Good Luck Chuck is a dumb romantic comedy broken up by Chuck having a lot of sex with women who treat him pretty poorly. Those who read my other reviews know I'm a sucker for pointing out subtext. Good Luck Chuck paints itself as a movie where the protagonist has a woeful ability and he is used by women who are desperate for love. On the surface, it may seem like Chuck is a nice guy doing a nice thing for otherwise nice women. But then, Chuck starts having sex with women who read books, smack him around and yell at him while involved in acts of coitus. The surface suggests that this is a misandric movie where women are finally getting their due on their male oppressors and sexual liberation is alive and well. But it's not. This is another movie where women are treated as objects (especially the rotund woman used to "prove" to Chuck that the curse is not real) and their treatment of a guy who is ostensibly doing a favor they ask for illustrates a ridiculously low opinion of women. In other words, if Chuck were truly doing something nice for all of the demure, loveless women in the world by fucking their brains out, one thinks they'd be grateful. No, Good Luck Chuck paints Chuck as a strange victim of the usual harpy cliche of women. At least movies like The Story Of O (reviewed here!) are pretty straightforward in their view of women and even make a pass at making the sexual domination of them an act of feminine empowerment. Good Luck Chuck is not even smart enough to put up the pretense.

It's when reviewing the movie that I realize how little I truly enjoyed it. This is not to say I didn't laugh at all, because there were moments I did, especially early on. But from the moment Chuck's personal assistant throws herself at Chuck in an attempt to land a man and the movie becomes largely about making fun of fat women, lesbians, and getting Jessica Alba in her underwear (yes, kids, there is some sideboob), Good Luck Chuck fails to be either funny or even entertaining.

Jessica Alba, who sells a ton of magazines, is at this point forcing us to ask the question "what do you want out of your career?!" Between this and The Love Guru, Alba seems to be determined not to put herself in any roles where she can play a character who is substantive or even interesting. Instead, one suspects that Alba was offered a dump truck of cash to get this movie made and released and she just . . . I don't know, got hit with an IRS audit or something, so she said "sure."

I have no standard by which to judge the acting of Dane Cook in this. Cook plays Chuck and he seems to be banking a lot on his smile and the movie's nudity to cover the fact that his character is lacking in character and the movie is utterly predictable.

On DVD, there are deleted scenes which add nothing substantive to the movie. This is largely because it is not a substantive movie to begin with, so there's nothing that changes with the deleted scenes. The worthwhile bonus feature (hey kids, this is what you're truly looking for!) is a feature that is a simple montage of all of the movie's sex scenes and all of the nudity in the movie. Yes, you can skip the film, watch the sex and save yourself a lot of time.

For other works with Crystal Lowe, visit my reviews of:
Hot Tub Time Machine
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
Scary Movie 4


For other film reviews, be sure to check out my Movie Review Index Page!

© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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