Lucky Numbers (2000) starring John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow, Tim Roth, Ed O'Neill, Michael Rapaport directed by Nora Ephron Movie Review

Lucky Numbers (2000)   2/52/52/52/52/5

John Travolta in Lucky Numbers (2000)

Always Slightly Out

When Russ Richards (John Travolta) isn't presenting the weather on a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania television station he runs a snowmobile dealership. The trouble is that winter has been unusually warm which means no one is interested in buying snowmobiles pushing him close to bankruptcy. Russ' friend Gig (Tim Roth) suggests he does an insurance scam but not only does it fail but he then finds himself with a hitman to deal with. It is then Russ after some prompting from decides to cheat the lottery with the help of his girlfriend, Crystal (Lisa Kudrow) who pulls and reads the lottery numbers live on air. The trouble is before long everyone seems to know of the lottery scam and want a slice of the action.

There is a scene in "Lucky Numbers" where Russ visits the dodgy Gig at the strip club he owns and he convinces Russ to stage a fake robbery to claim on his insurance. The scene should be dark and amusing but not a single person involved in the scene makes it work with Travolta and Roth coming across like they have only just read their lines and director Nora Ephron failing to capitalize on the black comedy of a ping ball suddenly bouncing off of the table. It is sadly an ordinary scene but one which as a movie fan you sit there knowing could have been darker and funnier with other actors and a director who has a track record with dark comedy.

That is the problem with "Lucky Numbers" as if you were to read the script you could picture a genuinely entertaining black comedy which combined the best elements of classic Ealing comedies with modern Coen brothers elements. But as you watch you think to yourself why did they cast Travolta as he doesn't bring the frantic stress to the role which say Nicolas Cage could whilst Tim Roth seems like he has been hired seconds before the movie started and had no time to come up with an actual character. As for Lisa Kudrow, well she's been under served by a script which wants us to be amused not only by the fact she is screwing various men but she unexpectedly swears. It is wrong on so many levels and is why not even a quarter in to the movie you find yourself starting to drift.

What this all boils down to is that "Lucky Numbers" on paper I am sure worked but the final product doesn't and between a lack of punch when it comes to the directing through to the casting it just feels wrong.