It is unlikely to surprise you that "Good Luck Chuck" is a bad film.
What may surprise you, however, is that I'm genuinely disappointed that "Good Luck Chuck," first time director Mark Helfrich's attempt to invade Judd Apatow's land of endearing R-rated sex humor, is such an incredibly bad film.
It's not so much that I had faith that leads Dane Cook and Jessica Alba would be particularly brilliant in this obviously one-note film...on the contrary, from the lighthearted trailers that have been playing for weeks I simply had hope that both had finally found a simple, yet entertaining way in which they could both shine onscreen.
I admit it. I enjoyed the trailer for "Good Luck Chuck" immensely. It seemed to capitalize on Alba's sexy "girl next door" persona and Cook's brand of raunch-lite humor.
"Good Luck Chuck" could have worked...in fact, as a middle-of-the-road sex comedy it should have worked.
"Good Luck Chuck" simply doesn't work.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that "Good Luck Chuck" is the story of Charley (Dane Cook), an attractive working-class dentist who gets cursed by a weird looking goth chick as a child during a not so innocent game of "Spin the Bottle." The movie quickly fast forwards to the present with Charley attending the wedding of yet another ex-girlfriend, who ends up toasting him for being her "good luck charm." As it turns out, every girl he has sex with ends up marrying the next man they date.
Again, a cute concept that should have worked.
Of course, Charley meets Cam (Jessica Alba) and falls in love when his best friend (Dan Fogler) reminds him of the curse and Charley realizes that if he sleeps with Cam she'll marry the next man she meets.
While Helfrich is obviously treading into Apatow waters, "Good Luck Chuck" is more like the bottom feeder of contemporary sex comedies. Whereas Apatow's flicks have an almost masterful way of blending outrageous raunchiness with an engaging tenderness, "Good Luck Chuck" is remarkably devoid of anything remotely resembling sincerity, real emotion or even a semblance of chemistry between Cook and Alba.
What's the problem? If Apatow can somehow sell an audience that Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl are a believable match, how can it be so difficult to create a believable chemistry between Dane Cook and Jessica Alba?
Part of the problem lies in Josh Stolberg's safe script that too often emphasizes body fluid humor over character development. While I've never quite been convinced that Dane Cook is the awful actor that everyone likes to say he is, one can't help but wonder how he can screw up two romantic comedies in a row starring such hotties as Jessica Simpson and Jessica Alba.
Hmmm. Maybe he has unresolved Jessica issues from childhood?
The truth is that Helfrich and Stolberg strayed too far from Cook's natural persona as the smart-ass guy next door who's basically a good guy. Having Cook portray a dentist who annually serves needy Guatemalan kids is akin to Uwe Boll's unconscionable decision to have Tara Reid play a scientist in "Alone in the Dark."
Alba is, let's face it, herself no prize-winning actress. Yet, Cam isn't really a challenging role in that it essentially calls upon her to be sexy, clumsy, flirty and to love penguins. Alba's always had a decent enough stage presence and "Good Luck Chuck" shows that she may just have potential in light romantic comedies with the right leading man.
As Charley's best friend, Fogler is gratefully far improved over his recent turn in "Balls of Fury," a film rated slightly her only due to the performance of Christopher Walken. Fogler, in this film as a breast and sex-obsessed plastic surgeon, is a competent, if occasionally over-the-top, supporting player who oddly enough exhibits more chemistry with Cook than does Alba.
Penguin lovers will be ecstatic as Cam works in a penguin habitat, and penguins are featured throughout the film and, almost disturbingly so in the closing credits.
While many of the film's comic scenarios are quite funny the first time around, Helfrich's inexperience as a director shows up as he milks these scenarios for far more than they are really worth. Cam's clumsiness becomes more obnoxious than funny, and even the whole sex-obsessed plastic surgeon routine gets incredibly old rather quickly.
Alba fans will also be rather disappointed that, despite the film's R-rating, this is largely owing to the film's graphic language, sex dialogue and nudity on the part of Charley's many other conquests rather than Alba.
I suppose it's my own fault for getting my hopes too high with "Good Luck Chuck." Despite a potentially hilarious storyline and a role practically tailor made for Jessica Alba, "Good Luck Chuck" is destined to be a stroke of bad luck for audiences and distributor Lionsgate.