The Lottery (1996) Dan Cortese, Keri Russell, Veronica Cartwright, Stephen Root, William Daniels Movie Review

The Lottery (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Dan Cortese in The Lottery (1996)

An Unlucky Dip

After a crazy day in the city where a car with a body stuffed in the trunk smashes into a car he is towing, Jason Smith (Dan Cortese) gets a call from the hospital to say his elderly father hasn't much time left. On his death bed Jason's father requests that he scatters his ashes over the grave of Jason's mother, trouble is that Jason doesn't remember much about his mum or the small community of New Hope where they lived before they moved to the city. But after finding the small town and the grave where his mother is buried Jason not only notices that all the graves have the same date, the 27th June on them but memories of an old tradition from his childhood surrounding a lottery start to come back.

The 90s has a lot to answer for especially when it comes to movies as through out this decade producers and directors would take a story and shoe horn it between a style and elements which now come across as tacky. Take for example "The Lottery", a made for TV movie from 1996, the first 15 minutes of this movie has this hot and sweaty feel of life in the city which means Dan Cortese walks around with his shirt off whilst in another scene his girlfriend walks around in sexy black lingerie. In fairness back in the 90s these elements were enjoyable but it is a style which now dates "The Lottery" and makes it a little cheesy.

Keri Russell in The Lottery (1996)

But look beyond the 90s look and style and "The Lottery" does, at its heart, have an interesting storyline which is of course the mystery of this small town with its cagey individuals and a sense that some people don't want Jason around. Of course at the heart of this movie is the short story by Shirley Jackson which if you haven't read I suggest you do. The thing is that her original short story, no matter how thought provoking, is so wrapped up in 90s style it ends up getting a little lost no matter how horrific the outcome of this story is.

In a way "The Lottery" is a little hit and miss when it comes to the story and its presentation and it is the same when it comes to the acting. Now there are some good performances in this movie such as those from M. Emmet Walsh and Keri Russell and then there is Dan Cortese. Now Cortese is not a bad actor but unfortunately when you combine Cortese with that 90s style it does him no favours what so ever and you begin to wonder whether he was cast because he looks good with his shirt off or when he has one on looking good in a denim shirt over a white t-shirt.

What this all boils down to is that "The Lottery" whilst having a decent underlying storyline struggles because of the layers of 90s styling which engulfs it.