Just Your Luck

  • 1996
  • Movie
  • R
  • Crime, Thriller

Despite an able cast and a promising premise, JUST YOUR LUCK is a Tarantino wannabe with all of the moves and none of the inspiration. Late at night in a Manhattan diner, old Pops (Bill Erwin) bums a newspaper, discovers that he has won $6 million in the lottery--and dies of a heart attack. While the patrons and staff argue about what to do with the ticket,...read more

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Despite an able cast and a promising premise, JUST YOUR LUCK is a Tarantino wannabe with all of the moves and none of the inspiration.

Late at night in a Manhattan diner, old Pops (Bill Erwin) bums a newspaper, discovers that he has won $6 million in the lottery--and dies of a heart attack. While the patrons and staff argue about what to do with the ticket, Straker (Jon Favreau), a horse player in debt to the mob, pulls a gun and

demands the ticket. A scuffle ensues, and Straker is accidentally killed when he backs into a knife held by yuppie lawyer Ray (Sean Patrick Flanery). Ray and Nick (Jon Polito), the diner's owner, take the body away to dispose of it. After a few failed attempts, they decide to return to the diner

and leave it in the dumpster.

Back in the diner, everything seems to be all right until Pops groans and they realize that he isn't dead yet. Lawyer Kim (Virginia Madsen), who sees her share of the money as a way out of the New York rat race, puts a plastic bag over Pops' head and suffocates him. They put the body in the

dumpster.

Hoods Coker (John Lurie) and Johnny (Flea) arrive to collect money Straker owes their boss. Sensing tension, they learn what has happened and cut themselves in on the deal. Cops Carl (Mike Starr) and Barry (Vince Vaughn) also sense trouble when they stop in, and find Straker's body in the

dumpster. As everyone is arrested, the lottery ticket winds up with crazy bag lady Mamie (Carroll Baker), who tears it up and eats it.

It's a testament to Quentin Tarantino's abilities as a director and (especially) a screenwriter that so many indie filmmakers have tried to imitate him and so few have pulled it off. These Tarantino manques usually feature an ensemble cast, hip music, and a cynical attitude, but the defining

factor is the dialogue. Plot and characterization are an excuse for the writer to indulge in quirky exchanges of dialogue, whether or not they have anything to do with the ostensible story.

Tarantino himself does this kind of thing with great panache, which is why viewers let him get away with it: the dialogue is good enough to be an end in itself. Director Gary Auerbach and his co-scripter Todd Alcott, on the other hand, aren't quite as talented. Their characters are constantly

starting promising exchanges, like cop Carl's theory that the city of New York, having been built in a single fifty-year period, will also crumble in a fifty-year period, but failing to spin them out.

JUST YOUR LUCK has an interesting story, but no real ending: everything erupts into chaos as the soundtrack is given over to an operatic aria, which not only obscures the dialogue but makes the film seem awfully pompous. The strong cast is all fine, and the viewer is left longing for the much

better film this could have been. (Violence, profanity.)

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Despite an able cast and a promising premise, JUST YOUR LUCK is a Tarantino wannabe with all of the moves and none of the inspiration. Late at night in a Manhattan diner, old Pops (Bill Erwin) bums a newspaper, discovers that he has won $6 million in the… (more)

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