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Lucky 13 (March 7/05)

Provided certain elements are in place, it's virtually impossible to screw up a romantic comedy (ie two engaging leads, a happy ending, etc). That Lucky 13 fails so spectacularly is almost inexplicable, given how foolproof this genre tends to be.

The most obvious problem with the film involves its star, Brad Hunt. Though he's not necessarily a bad actor, he's completely devoid of charisma and likeability; we're supposed to be rooting for this guy, but his wooden presence makes that impossible. Making matters worse is the fact that his costar, Lauren Graham, delivers an exceptionally charming performance that's essentially the polar opposite of Hunt's. As a result, it becomes exceedingly difficult to understand just what her character sees in Hunt's.

The relatively simple storyline - Hunt plays Zach, a guy who has three days to win over the girl of his dreams (played by Graham) before she moves to New York - has been needlessly complicated with pointless subplots and overly "comedic" supporting characters. Ari Schlossberg and Chris Hall's screenplay, aside from completely lacking any kind of structure, emphasizes cheap, sitcom-level jokes that just aren't funny, despite the presence of Harland Williams in a supporting role (a performer who can usually be counted on to inject some hilarity into even the most subpar material).

Lucky 13's been directed by Hall, and it doesn't come as much of a surprise to learn that the movie marks his feature-length debut. When he's not employing cliched cinematic devices - ie voice-over narration - Hall's imbuing the film with an all-around sense of blandness that eventually becomes mind-numbing. Ironically, the one time the filmmaker decides to try something different is in the movie's conclusion; so, instead of giving us what we've been waiting 75 minutes for (ie a kiss between Zach and his true love), Hall instead opts for an ending that's confusing and infuriating.

If not for the presence of the endlessly captivating Graham, it seems clear that Lucky 13 would hardly be worth mentioning. It's hard to imagine just who the film is meant to appeal to; certainly not fans of romantic comedies, as it's not romantic in the slightest.

out of

About the DVD: MGM Home Entertainment presents Lucky 13 with a sharp letterboxed transfer, and several bonus trailers (When Will I Be Loved, Kiss the Bride, Sex is Comedy, Confessions of an American Girl, Legally Blonde 2, and a promo for other MGM romantic comedies).