This comedy fails to cash in
By Stephanie Merry
Friday, August 20, 2010
Normally, a three-day weekend that feels never-ending is cause for celebration. But in the case of the urban comedy "Lottery Ticket," a few days can be a long time for the main character -- and for the audience.
A long Fourth of July weekend is all that stands between recent high school graduate Kevin (played by rapper Bow Wow) and a $370 million jackpot. Owner of the winning ticket, Kevin can claim his prize once the next workday begins, but until then he has to contend with the other inhabitants of his housing project, including a gold digger, a muscly ex-con and a wealth of questionably intentioned friends.
"Do you know what could happen in three whole days?" Kevin wonders. The answer is a jumble of comedy and drama with a sprinkling of "After School Special" messaging and some head-scratchingly bad choices.
Most people in such a quandary would, perhaps, hide in a closet at a friend's house. But writers Erik White (who also directs) and Abdul Williams have the young man make decisions far beyond the potential for suspended disbelief.
Disclosing his new wealth to the whole neighborhood? Check. Taking money from a loan shark with a brigade of Bentleys in a dark warehouse? Check. Getting busy with an unabashed gold digger who wants to be his "baby mama"? ("This is my lottery ticket," she claims, gesturing to her partially disrobed brick house of a body.) Gross and, yes, check.
Despite the many uneven moments, there are some bright spots. Bow Wow has surprisingly good comic timing, especially when said man-eater begins aggressively seducing him under a mirrored ceiling. A scene with a fancy-footed and opportunistic preacher (Mike Epps) proves especially memorable, as the man fondles his long silky hair while narrating a slide show of the things God wants him to have, including a nicer church, a mansion that screams Miami and a young, hot wife. Most unexpected of all is Faheem Najm's (a.k.a. rapper T-Pain) brief and infectiously amusing portrayal of a liquor store clerk. It would seem the Grammy winner has talents beyond singing "I'm N Luv (Wit a Stripper)."
But things really slow down during the movie's ill-advised forays into drama.
When a curious old man living in a cellar (played by Ice Cube) discusses his past as a sparring partner for some of boxing's greatest legends, resplendent music begins to soar before he declares, "I just wish someone would come along and make a difference." He might as well have screamed, "This is foreshadowing."
When Kevin gets into a fight with his best friend, the pair hams it up to the point of Oscar clip territory, and Kevin's behavior starts to look an awful lot like Frodo's, buckling under the weight of the ring.
In the end, this three-day weekend takes up little more than an hour and a half, but it might be a holiday worth skipping.
Contains sexual content, language including a drug reference, violence and brief underage drinking.