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Lucky Numbers

"Lucky Numbers" on DVD

Greed and Loathing in Harrisburg

Take a bunch of lazy, selfish, and greedy people, mix in a healthy dose of easy money, add a large helping of interpersonal confict and bad luck, and you have Nora Ephron's "Lucky Numbers."

John Travolta is Russ Richards, a big fish in a small pond. He's a local TV weatherman with delusions of grandeur, and a lifestyle he can't afford to maintain. His dream is to become a TV game show host, but in the meantime he revels in the adulation of his small city audience.

He's such a big star on the small scale that he even has his own parking space and table at the local Denny's. Unfortunately, he's on the verge of going broke, partly because his snowmobile franchise is on hard times caused by a lack of snow.

With the help of a rather unscrupulous nightclub-owner friend (Tim Roth), he comes up with a get rich quick scheme by which he and his sometime girlfriend (played to the hilt by Lisa Kudrow) fix the lottery. It shouldn't be much of a problem, 'cause she's the one who draws the numbers on TV anyway, so all that should be required is a little sleight of hand when it comes to the security guard, a not-so-innnocent bystander who actually buys the winning ticket, and Presto!

Such, of course, is not the case, and the movie twists and turns its way through a variety of convolutions and convulsions that ends up with pretty well everyone ruined and/or disgraced.

Not that they don't deserve it. Whether it be Richards, the bimbo, the evil TV station manager (Ed O'Neill), or the rest of the supporting cast (including Michael Rapaport, Bill Pullman and left wing whacko director Michael Moore), there isn't a sympathetic character anywhere in sight here. Nope, they're all a bunch of, well, pukes, and they deserve exactly what they get.

That doesn't mean "Lucky Numbers" is a bad film, however. On the contrary, as with "Lake Placid," the total lack of humanity enhances the laughs.

So while it isn't necessarily a yukfest, or a movie in which you can actually root for anyone, it's worth seeing.

The DVD is in widescreen, 16x9 compatible, and with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The picture's a tad soft, but we think this was the director's intent. Audio quality is very good.

Extras include a running commentary by Director Nora Ephron, a decent set of interviews with cast and crew, and the trailer.

This means there are more extras on this disc than with the average Paramount feature we've reviewed. While we'd rather see a studio's energies go into the best quality on the movie transfer itself, we like the gravy that a good set of extra provides, and so encourage Paramount to do more of this.

Lucky Numbers, from Paramount Home Video
105 min. widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow, Tim Roth, Ed O'Neill, Bill Pullman
Produced by Andrew Lazar, Jonathan D. Krane, Sean Daniel, Nora Ephron
Written by Adam Resnick, Directed by Nora Ephron.


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Updated May 13, 2006