Friday, October 26, 2012

The Reason People Don't Like Teenagers: Just My Luck Embodies The Worst In Entertainment

The Good: You've got me, it ends?
The Bad: Plot is predictable, Characters, Acting, Soundtrack, Pretty much everything
The Basics: With terrible acting, poor role models/behaviors exhibited and an insipid teen soundtrack, Just My Luck is a loser for all audiences.

Every now and then, I walk right into my favorite library, browse along the DVDs and stop at the first title I do not recognize and I get that movie out. Generally, it takes a lot for me to find something by this method these days. Today, I was in luck and I found a movie I had not heard of that was new, so I got it out and watched it. It was called Just My Luck, features Lindsay Lohan and it makes me wonder if everyone remotely associated with this movie has had their career utterly destroyed. If not, they ought to be.

Ashley lives in Manhattan in a fabulous apartment, does not believe in luck, yet she is always able to catch a cab, rain clouds clear up when she walks outside and the new cute guy she meets (who is, of course, fabulously rich) asks her out and she gets the corporate credit card to plan a fabulous party for the richest music mogul around. Across town, Jake Hardin has terrible luck: his pants tear, he finds a five dollar bill covered in dog poop and his quest to get a c.d. to Damon Phillips, the music mogul, lands him in jail. Jake makes his way into the fabulous party, kisses Ashley and their luck reverses, allowing Jake to become successful representing his band and sending Ashley into a chaotic life that involves losing everything she had.

My first problem with this movie was I could not figure out who the intended audience is. The movie is PG-13, but characters mention erotic massage, celebrate with champagne and work at jobs that require at least a rudimentary college education. As an adult, the movie is lightyears too stupid for me. The average joke involves falling down, vomiting when one is nervous or getting punched in the face by the butch woman in your jail cell. So, it's clearly not intended for an adult audience (I think we need a new rating system from the MPAA which will indicate the level to which a movie will insult the intelligence of an adult), but it has some dialogue that is apparently pushing it above the age 13 threshold. It this garbage truly what 13 - 18 year olds are watching these days?!

This movie does wonderful things for young women in the 13 - 18 age group. It reinforces such beautiful stereotypes as to how girls act (upon finding out she'll be taking a helicopter with her boyfriend to catch the jet to go to the game they're watching, she giggles and declares, "This is so going into my diary!" - that might be a paraphrase, I'm not searching the disc for that line!), reminds girls of the importance of wearing underwear, and encourages young women to enter their adulthood and engage in shouting at whoever will listen when they encounter an obstacle. An argument could be made that Just My Luck also encourages young women to improvise in order to wow the businessworld, but the actual process of Ashley improvising and succeeding with Damon is not shown.

This movie has no entertainment value. Virtually every line in the movie is terrible and that it took five people to write this piece of garbage boggles me. I. Marlene King, Amy Harris, Jonathan Bernstein, Mark Blackwell, and James Greer cannot, apparently, come up with a decent line or original concept between themselves. There was not a single gag in the movie that I did not see coming. My cats saw them coming, that's how obvious every joke in this movie was.

The characters are all terrible. Not one of them pops, not one of them is remotely empathetic. Instead, they are vacuous, spoiled, superstitious (though most claim not to be) and so poorly conceived that when one of the two protagonists switches luck, everyone associated with them switches luck as well. To wit, there's no decent explanation for why Maggie's song, which was scheduled to be covered by McFly - the band - would be dropped when Ashley's luck changes.

So, in addition to being a pointless debate on the force of luck - it's essentially treated as a parasite or communicable disease here that is transmitted by kissing - Just My Luck has not a single character that is worth watching. Instead, the film is a painful reminder that young people are being set up for . . . you know what, at the end of this movie, I'm not even sure what young people are being set up for! Are our 13 - 18 year olds perceptive enough to become as vacuous as the characters in this movie? Or can they not even aim that high?

It's hard to guess. What's not hard to evaluate here is the acting. It's terrible. Through and through this is a reminder that young people are not inherently talented. Director Donald Petrie seems to have gone out of his way to find the worst actors possible. So bad was the acting in Just My Luck that I was astounded to learn that McFly was a real band. Their amateur sound, which populates this movie, was so bad I could only figure that they were terrible actors cast poorly as musicians. As it is, they're just poor musicians being used as actors. This reminds us that artists often have different talents and a musical career should not be taken as a license to act.

Chris Pine and Lindsay Lohan (Jake and Ashley, respectively) have no on-screen chemistry and Pine's performance is, at best, derivative of Kyle Howard (in his role from Grosse Point). At best, it's stiff and utterly lacking in charisma and/or comic timing.

Lindsay Lohan is equally bad as Ashley. She has no real screen presence or charisma in this movie. Sure, she's made to look good, but she does not perform as anything even remotely close to entertaining here.

Back before the age of focus groups and target demographics, the industry was geared toward adults (okay, maybe we're forced to go all the way back to when books were the dominant medium of entertainment). Before things became geared toward children, they either were exposed to what the adults were exposed to (places in the U.S. that were literate had more literate - i.e. higher levels of diction and vocabulary - people) or they went without. Just My Luck makes the argument for having kids go without until they are mature enough to "get" adult concepts.

In recent days, I've seen some decent movies with young people. Ghost World (reviewed here!) and Dreamland (reviewed here!) were both superior movies with young people as protagonists. I don't know what either is rated, but they're bound to be better than this drecht for your young adults.

For other films with Chris Pine, check out my reviews of:
Star Trek
Smokin’ Aces
The Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement


For other film reviews, check out the Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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