Romantic comedies are the most reliably predictable form of movie entertainment. The template for many 21st century rom coms goes something like this: Boy meets girl. Boy loses Girl. Boy realizes the error of his ways and runs through a busy airport to win back the heart of his soul mate who is about to start a new life elsewhere. We’ve seen it a thousand times and usually know how the movie will end before it even starts, so the challenge for filmmakers is to keep the journey interesting. How the lovers wind up together is as important as why.
Good Luck Chuck follows the formula to a tee—everything except the interesting journey part.
Internet comedy sensation Dane Cook plays Chuck, who as a youngster refused to kiss a Siouxsie Sioux wannabe during a hot-and-heavy game of spin the bottle. Hurt and embarrassed she placed a hex on him. To paraphrase—for a ten-year-old she has a pretty good sense of the dramatic—she says that every woman he sleeps with will dump him and marry the next man they meet. Twenty years later the curse seems to have taken hold. He’s a rich, successful, but single dentist who exists on a diet of casual sex with women who ditch him and immediately fall into the arms of Mr. Right. When he meets Cam Wexler (Jessica Alba) a beautiful but clumsy penguin trainer (I’m not kidding) he realizes how empty his life of one-night-stands has been. He loves her, but is convinced that if he consummates the relationship he’ll lose her to another man.
Unlike Knocked Up from earlier this year Good Luck Chuck doesn’t have one moment in it that rings true. Everything in this movie is contrived, from the premise to the silly attitude of the film that women are so desperate to find a man that they would debase themselves with Chuck on the off-chance that a tryst with him could lead to nuptial bliss to the dull leading actors.
None of it connects and at the base of it there is no humanity here. Cook and Alba lack on-screen chemistry and are blander than plain oatmeal. Because no sparks fly between them it’s hard to buy into the love story and with no believable romantic moments it’s not quite a romance and with no laughs—you know you’re in trouble when the characters on screen are laughing more than the audience—it’s not really a comedy.
So what is it then? At best it is a chance for teenage boys to ogle some gratuitously topless women. At worst it is an unfunny sex farce that cries out for the deft touch of The 40 Year Old Virgin director Judd Apatow who seems to understand how to make a raunchy comedy with real heart.