Screenwriter: Josh Stolberg
Starring: Dane Cook, Jessica Alba, Dan Fogler
Running time: 96 mins
Despite being utterly devoid of inspiration and suffering from a serious genre identity crisis, Good Luck Chuck somehow manages to become a fairly heartwarming film. Much of the credit should lie with the two appealing leads, Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, who are both highly likeable and make one cast aside cynicism and yearn for their characters' romance to blossom.
A prologue set when Charlie 'Chuck' Logan (Cook) is a child sets up the very contrived central conceit behind the plot – namely that a goth girl has placed a hex on him for refusing to make out with her during a game of spin the bottle. This means that as an adult, Chuck will become a good luck charm for ladies, who always find their dream man after having sex with him. As news spreads he's a dentist in demand, but soon becomes tired of the burden when he meets sweet but accident-prone penguin fanatic Cam (Alba). But how long can he resist dipping the wick, now that he knows it will spell the end of their relationship?
Not to overstate things here, but the first half hour of the movie is pretty dire. We're subjected to plenty of misfiring scatological gags and totally superfluous shots of breasts and cleavage. But before the brain can totally shut down, the movie veers from dum-com to rom-com as the love intrigue between Chuck and Cam takes hold.
Alba utterly nails her role as the goofy, sweet loser and exudes a disarming charm. This is quite some feat given the cameras' leering tendency to focus on her other, non-thespian assets. Dane Cook is well suited to the good-natured, obsessive Chuck and the pair gel well together. They certainly look like they're having fun and this translates over to the audience too, meaning a vested interest in how the screen couple fare.
Dan Fogler is also fun to watch as Chuck's quirky sidekick Stu. It's fair to say that he wasn't given the best script to work with (none of the actors were), but there is some macabre fun to be had observing a character with a fondness for intercourse with grapefruit while giving himself a prostate massage. It almost makes up for the lack of any decent verbal humour throughout the film.
There are a few laughs scattered around, predominantly sight gags. In addition to Stu's fruit fetish, Chuck making out with a big mama is a sight to behold, while a split-screen montage of his various carnal activities goes down well. Alba also proves herself very adept at slapstick comedy as Cam constantly crashes into objects or penguins. However, there is definitely a reliance on the inadvertent infliction of physical pain serving as comedy. A focus on funny dialogue would have suited the movie better.
Perhaps the dismal first third of the film caused expectations to diminish, but Good Luck Chuck ultimately emerges as a reasonably likeable film. Despite a few cheap laughs from various gross-out moments as the narrative crux kicks in, the direction and writing are generally mediocre. The cracking performances from Alba and Cook do wonders at papering over these creative fissures.