Good Luck Chuck
Dir. Mark Helfrich
Premiered at Maui June 13, 2007
I was really dreading this one. It had 5% on RottenTomatoes. It was called all manner of sexist, homophobic, and racist. It has a character who is those things, but mostly it’s just awful. The story is awful. The humor is awful. The actors are awful. Good Luck Chuck is not original in its badness, but it definitely excels at being bad in a normal way.
Every seven years or so, some awful, obnoxious comedian becomes immensely popular among middle schoolers. I personally was just barely too young to have been a fan of Tom Green, and just barely too old to have been a fan of Good Luck Chuck’s star, Dane Cook. Although I’m not totally familiar with his work, I understand that his comedy routine is that he talks fast, and sometimes does a whiny voice.
Even if you liked Dane Cook’s comedy, I don’t think you could realistically expect him to excel at movies. Acting and being able to tell jokes are two very different skills, and though many people can do both, Dane Cook is a leaden, underacting lump. Nevertheless, Hollywood had to try, and gave him three starring roles: 2006’s Employee of the Month, 2007’s Good Luck Chuck, and 2008’s My Best Friend’s Girl.
By Summer 2007, Cook’s star was already fading, though he briefly and bizarrely spent the late summer and early fall as the face of Major League Baseball. Good Luck Chuck received scathing reviews and barely made back its budget and marketing cost, helping to kill Cook’s star for good. In the film, Cook plays Charlie Logan, a dentist with an unusual past: when he was ten years old, a creepy goth girl attempted to rape him during a game of Seven Minutes in Heaven. When he resisted her advances, she put a hex on him, vowing that any woman who slept with him would immediately find true love with someone else.
Now in his thirties, word of Charlie’s “good luck charm” has gotten out, and women line up at his dental practice in order to have sex with him and meet the man they will marry. Charlie is not convinced the hex is real, but worries when he falls madly for the supernaturally clumsy Cam Wexler (Jessica Alba). As a side note, Cam’s clumsiness was advertised as the film’s central premise; in reality it factors little into the story and is totally abandoned halfway through.
After sleeping with Cam, Charlie is terrified that she will meet someone else, and goes into hardcore creepy stalker mode, turning her away. Charlie realizes that it’s best to let things be, until he is convinced to chase her again, because it’s the right thing to do. But first he has to undo the hex.
Good Luck Chuck is most clearly influenced by the previous year’s darkhorse comedy hit, Wedding Crashers. If you have ever wanted to see a four-minute Wedding Crashers-style montage of Dane Cook fucking, this is your movie. But there are a few crucial differences:
Wedding Crashers stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are generally charming, or at worst enjoyably crass; Dane Cook by contrast is startlingly uncharismatic.
The guys in Wedding Crashers were equal-opportunity manwhores, whereas Cook’s conquests are all white, which weirded me out to an unexpected level.
Wedding Crashers did not have a supernatural gimmick involving the sexual assault of a child.
The violently misogynistic character in Wedding Crashers is the villain, whereas that character in Good Luck Chuck is the wacky sidekick. Yes, America’s sweetheart Dan Fogler plays the world’s most obnoxious Leisure Suit Larry, plastic surgeon Stu. Charlie hates him, yet they are best friends. I know it’s standard for male leads in rom-coms to have a best friend they would never actually be friends with in real life, but the trope reaches a new low here in a scene no human being ever wanted to see wherein Charlie catches Stu having sex with a canteloupe while sticking a brush up his ass.
Good Luck Chuck is basically an irredeemable piece of garbage. The characters are loathsome or nonexistent. The moral is nonsensical and horrifying. The plot seems to have been made up as shooting progressed. But even though it is so bad, it is still very, very conventionally bad. It is the worst of its kind, but it’s a common kind.
Signs This Was Made in 2007
Penguins. Holy shit, penguins. Cam works with and is obsessed with penguins. There is a running theme of penguins eating their own shit. At one point, Charlie plays a penguin-kaiju video game. He’s wearing a headset even though it appears to be single-player mode. The movie has an epilogue set in Antarctica; I didn’t expect it to have something in common with Encounters at the End of the World (coming shortly).
In addition, an a capella group sings a rendition of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love;” Fogler drives a chrome-encrusted Hummer H2 Ice; two women are depicted as disgustingly subhuman because they have pubic hair; one of the aforementioned women also has a “George W.” tattoo; Palm Pilots are referenced, which even in 2007 is kinda weird and backward; and the movie opens with an 80s flashback.
- Wacky Strings. The entire score is wacky strings. It is the worst movie score I can recall since The Fifth Element.
- Lonny Ross is in this movie. His character smokes pot. That’s it. We never see him do it, but he sure talks about it a lot.
- This movie was very obviously shot in Vancouver, so it attempts to compensate with a product placement for American Airlines. Bam, America. Problem solved.
How Did It Do?
As said before, the movie got a 5% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes and barely broke even, grossing $59.2 million against a $25 million budget. It was nominated for a couple razzies. There isn’t a lot more to be unpacked there.
Around the time of Good Luck Chuck’s release, however, Cook was increasingly dogged by plagiarism allegations that never went away. His film work mostly dried up, he kept getting acting gigs that fell through, and when he did return to star in a movie, it was in a little-seen, critically reviled science fiction film. All of this seems approximately just.
Next Time: Nancy Drew