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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Know When To Fold 'Em
by Betty Jo Tucker

Lucky You, starring Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana, mixes romance and gambling in a film that might appeal to die-hard poker players. Too bad most poker enthusiasts prefer playing the game rather than watching a movie about it. Still, fans of Barrymore and Bana will probably enjoy seeing these two together -- and the great Robert Duvall’s appearance here adds a bit of gravitas to the project.

Bana (Troy) portrays Huck Cheever, a man desperately in need of $10,000 to buy a seat at the 2003 World Series of Poker. For Huck, poker is a full-time job -- not a hobby. When he meets Billie Offer (Barrymore), a wannabe singer, he’s attracted to her, but not enough to keep from stealing her money. “I borrowed it,” he insists after they spend the night together. Huck’s other problem involves playing against L.C. (Duvall), a two-time winner of the World Series tournament. And, guess what? L.C. is Huck’s estranged father.

Poker must be in the genes, folks. I know how seductive it can be from personal experience. One of the highlights of my childhood involves frequent family poker sessions with our little Irish grandmother, who simply HAD to win or darkness reigned until the next get-together. My sister and I still love to play, although friends resent our unusual “dealer’s choices” -- like Dr. Pepper in which tens, twos and fours are wild. However, what I fail to understand is the current popularity of watching poker on television, a daily pastime my husband never misses.

But I digress. Returning to Lucky You, it’s important to note the way Bana manages to make Huck, who wears a leather jacket and zooms around on a motorbike, so likable despite his tunnel vision and moral lapses. Bana endows Huck with a charm all his own, yet that doesn’t stop us from realizing the man should get a life instead of into another game.

If anyone can change Huck, it’s Billie, portrayed by Barrymore with her usual sensitivity and charisma. However, the movie concentrates more on Huck’s relationship with his father.  Barrymore’s role simply serves as a catalyst to bring these two back together again. “There must be a difference between giving and receiving and winning and losing,” Billie tells L.C. after arguing with Huck about the lack of sympathy in poker.

Unfortunately, no matter how good their acting, it’s hard to accept Bana and Duvall as father and son. They have absolutely no physical resemblance or similar mannerisms.  Also, the romantic chemistry between Bana and Barrymore seems surprisingly bland. Still, the film boasts an exciting Las Vegas setting and a brilliant cameo by Robert Downey, Jr., as a friend Huck turns to for a loan. But those endless poker sessions became boring -- and my thoughts soon turned from what was happening on screen to plans for scheduling a real game as soon as possible.

(Released by Warner Bros. Pictures and rated “PG-13” for some language and sexual humor.)

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