Lucky You

The gambling drama "Lucky You" is tailor-made for those who enjoy televised poker championships. That's bad news for anyone who believes human beings make for more fascinating movie material than playing cards and casino chips.

Exuding effortless cool but forced to spend a majority of his screen time sitting down at Vegas tables, Eric Bana ("Munich") plays Huck, a professional poker player whose compulsive bets keep him from realizing his full potential. He is at his most dangerously cocky when up against his father, legendary pro L.C. (Robert Duvall, "The Godfather"), who walked out on Huck's mother years ago.

Huck's daddy issues also prevent him from opening himself up to any woman, but that doesn't stop idealistic singer Billie (Drew Barrymore, "The Wedding Singer") from trying to win his heart.

This romantic subplot is too rushed, and it doesn't help that Barrymore, who vacillates wildly between natural radiance and phony posturing on film, plays the role in her inauthentic "aren't-I-adorable?" mode (plus, her vocals in the brief moments we see Billie's lounge act would make Simon Cowell's head spin).

Bana establishes a smoother rapport with the great Duvall, and the two have a few moving exchanges near the World Series of Poker–set climax. But by that point, the audience has been so inundated with tedious gambling scenes that it's hard to muster much enthusiasm.

Director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential"), normally a master craftsman, indulges his love of poker to the detriment of the film's tangy dialogue and handful of nicely acted scenes. All but the most die-hard Texas Hold 'Em fans will be fighting the urge to snooze.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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