At the risk of sounding like a prude, I am officially done with Hollywood’s obsession with vulgar, dumbed-down romantic comedies. Ever since 'There's Something About Mary' proved to be such a huge hit back in 1998, the words "sweet" and "light-hearted" seem to have become anathema in comedy, replaced by a delight in emotional sadism and the hurling of insults. Even worse, this "hip" humor continues to mistake a pre-occupation with gleeful acts of perversion with actual insight into the human condition. Rather than making people laugh, the ability to make people upchuck their popcorn seems to have become the most precious commodity at the box office.
'Good Luck Chuck' isn’t likely to be the last entry in this assembly line of bad taste (which includes such recent, unmemorable flicks as 'The Heartbreak Kid,' 'Norbit' and 'Employee of the Month,' also starring Dane Cook), but it just may be the worst. Despite pretending to be about romance, the film doesn't have a romantic bone in its body. Holding little regard for female intelligence, it sees women as objects to be either viewed in the most misogynist manner, or mercilessly degraded should they dare show the slightest imperfection. One has to wonder about the filmmakers' own hang-ups, as they seem to only regard women with fear and repulsion.
Dane Cook stars as Charlie Logan, who's billed as "the luckiest guy on earth,” since he’s earned the reputation of being the “good luck charm” to women everywhere –- supposedly, having sex with him ensures that they will meet the man of their dreams immediately after. For a guy like Charlie, this is seen as a plus, as he gets all the chicks he wants without any commitment. That is, until he meets Cam (Jessica Alba), who gets him to consider his "blessing" as a possible curse, since sleeping with her means he’ll immediately lose her to the next guy. Charlie is in love for the first time, but can he let go of his wanton ways and finally stop being "Good Luck Chuck?"
This is all a variation on the timeless "schmuck becomes a mensch with the love of a good woman" plotline, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as the genre is approached with the proper balance of originality and charm. The problem with 'Good Luck Chuck' is that the screenplay has just one setting on the tone-o-meter -- tawdry. Even worse, it has absolutely nothing to say about the nature of modern relationships, it’s simply another marketable product, an amalgam of romantic comedy cliches from which the filmmakers hang a string of dirty jokes.
If 'Good Luck Chuck' was at least funny, one could forgive it its sins of bad taste. I've certainly enjoyed many "dirty" comedies over the years, from classics like 'Animal House,' to vintage John Waters films, to 'There's Something About Mary,' but this one is so determined to push the envelope of what's been seen in an R-rated comedy (only made worse in this unrated cut) that it forgets to ask why it's doing what it's doing,. Judging from ‘Chuck,’ Hollywood is thoroughly preoccupied with breast implants and the sexual desires of morbidly obese women, yet because there’s no subtext to the film's button-pushing or its relentless misogyny and homophobia, it merely comes across as juvenile -- the cinematic equivalent of the bratty kid who giggled through Sex Ed in grade school and deserved a good, swift kick in the nuts.
In addition, the movie squanders the charms of its two leads. Cook may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he can be likable when given the right material. Likewise, Alba usually has an appealing on-screen presence, and here she displays a previously untapped flair for slapstick comedy. Unfortunately, what little chemistry the two stars generate is smothered by the film's nastiness, making their romance doomed from the start. When the film tries to turn sappy in the third act, there is little Cook or Alba can do to redeem characters that, as written, have come off as shrill and one-dimensional.
Sadly, there is little to recommend in 'Good Luck Chuck.' Sure, taken as episodic vignettes of toilet humor, some of this stuff might be amusing if you're seriously buzzed, but as a romantic comedy about two real, human characters, it’s an ugly, mean-spirited failure. I can only hope the recent box office failures of films like 'Good Luck Chuck' and 'The Heartbreak Kid' mean audiences are finally tired of this stuff, and that Hollywood might be ready to grow up along with them.
'Good Luck Chuck' gets a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer presented at 1.78:1, opened up slightly from the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It's an all-around nice presentation, one that's vivid and appealing without overdoing it.
Somewhat oddly, the darker scenes in 'Good Luck Chuck' look better than the frequent, bright exteriors. Whites have a tendency to bloom in heavy daylight, which adds fuzziness and doesn't help fleshtones. The image is detailed (you can see the wreckage of Dane Cook's adolescent acne scars), but the excessive contrast results in a digital appearance that lacks realism. Colors are slightly washed out, though the palette is still quite vibrant.
Interiors excel, however, with better image depth and stronger colors. Hues are nicely reproduced without oversaturation, obvious chroma noise, or other artifacts. Shadow delineation is also good, with fine textures clearly visible, even in the darkest areas of the picture. This is also a nice, smooth encode, generally free of edge enhancement (I only noticed some very slight halos on the most contrasted edges). All in all, a solid four-star presentation.
Better than the film deserves, this Lionsgate release sports an uncompressed PCM 7.1 Surround track (48kHz/16-bit). Now you can hear all the farts, burps, and other bodily functions in full high-res audio!
Given the comedic nature of the material, a 7.1 mix for a film like 'Good Luck Chuck' is probably overkill. Rarely is there a sequence that truly benefits from the expanded rear soundstage. Some of the outdoor scenes involving crowds or animals (aren't those penguins cute?) have a lively and boisterous presence, but the rears never really come alive and envelop the viewer. At least the minimal discrete effects are nicely done, with smooth and seamless pans, and the soundtrack packs a nice punch.
Tech specs are similarly solid if unspectacular. The mix is well recorded, with a clean and bright (but not overly harsh) sound. The score is probably the most engaging sonic element, and it easily stands out in the mix. Low bass is adequate for a comedy, but never makes its presence truly felt. Dialogue reproduction is perfectly fine, and I had no volume balance problems.
Although 'Good Luck Chuck' is chock-full of bonus features, unfortunately this is another case of quantity over quality.
'Good Luck Chuck' is the latest product of Hollywood's obsession with turning even the most mild comedic material into a marathon of potty humor and mean-spirited digs at "ugly" women. Even the relative charms of Dane Cook and Jessica Alba can't save this one from the cinematic toilet (literally). This Blu-ray release is much nicer than the flick itself, with good video and audio and supplements that are appropriate to the tone of the film. Cook and Alba fans may want to check this out, but for all others, I'd only suggest a rental if you have a strong appetite for crass stupidity.