May 18, 2006

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Just My Luck (PG)
Lindsay Lohan betrays everyone who pointed to Mean Girls and Parent Trap and claimed she was a good actress with a ditzy, half-baked performance in Just My Luck, a shrill tween romantic comedy.

At least I’m assuming that with the rather worn-looking Lohan and the baby-faced Chris Pine (her male lead) the movie was going for the 10- to 14-year-old crowd. Who else would be able to sit through the screechy dialogue and the tired pratfalls that make up the bulk of this film?

Ashley (Lohan) is a remarkably lucky girl. She walks outside and it stops raining. She needs a cab and four stop. She avoids a ride in an elevator that gets stuck only to wind up sharing another elevator with a handsome, wealthy man who asks her on a date. And, missing the broken elevator means that she makes it to her office before her colleagues and ends up leading a meeting that gains her marketing firm a valuable client. In Ashley’s world, this sudden good fortune also leads to her getting a raise and a chance to throw a lavish charity dance.

It’s at this dance that her luck starts to turn. She dances with, then kisses, Jake (Pine), a no-luck-having bowling lane employee who is trying his hand at being a band’s agent. Jake has snuck in to the party to attempt to meet a big music mogul. After he kisses Ashley, he doesn’t just meet mogul Damon Phillips (Faizon Love), he saves his life. Damon instantly offers him any favor he wants and agrees to hear Jake’s band, whom he quickly signs.

So Jake’s life skyrockets (within a day he has a new job, new apartment, new clothes and cash) and Ashley’s falls apart (she’s fired, she’s broke, she’s homeless and her handsome, wealthy boyfriend dumps her). After chatting with a fortune teller, Ashley decides that luck isn’t just a circumstantial state but a thing she had, like mono, and, like mono, the only way she can get it back is to kiss the right man. She didn’t get a good look at the man she kissed at the charity dance (they were all in masks) so when she meets Jake while begging for food in a restaurant (because, apparently it’s $5 muffin or starvation; there’s no such thing in her world as packing a lunch) she doesn’t recognize him right away. But slowly that charity dance chemistry starts to clue her in that there might be something special about him.

Golly, what will happen? If she kisses him again, she’ll get her luck back but he’ll lose his. If she kisses him and gets her luck back, it’s also the only time she can ever kiss him. And, if she never kisses him and lets him keep his luck, not only will she have to live the life of a mere mortal but she’ll also lose her chance with this dreamy could-be boyfriend.

It’s a philosophical puzzle, a romantic riddle, a moral maze, a sociological sudoku — it’s a waste of a perfectly good hour and 40 minutes. We know exactly what has to happen and there is far too much squealing and luck-vs.-optimism prattle to make those 100 minutes remotely tolerable.

Lohan has been spot-on in some movies (Mean Girls) and merely OK in others (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen) but she has never before been this bad. She speaks all of her lines as if she’s just run up a flight of stairs and can’t catch her breath. Despite a career (admittedly, a short one) of finding the funny girl inside the cliché, Lohan plays Ashley flatly and with none of the spark that could have turned some of the movie’s silliness to charm. D


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