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Heroes of the Zeroes: Lucky You

by on June 30, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Lucky You”
Rated PG-13

There were worse shaggy-sportsman dramedies for Curtis Hanson’s “Lucky You” to emulate than “Tin Cup.”

Like Kevin Costner’s Roy McAvoy, Texas Hold’em poker shark Huck Cheever’s (Eric Bana) impulses clouded his intelligence and skill. As with “Tin Cup’s” multiple-mulligan conclusion, “Lucky You” ended on a surprisingly non-competitive note. And it’s not without a spot of golf — a gangbusters gambler’s triathlon of running five miles, walking 18 holes and shooting par in three hours.

Unlike “Tin Cup,” no one saw 2007’s “Lucky You.” Shelved for two years, it eventually hit 2,500 theaters the same weekend as “Spider-Man 3” and folded with a $2.7-million opening. Still, “Lucky You” had seats at its table for cajoling comic charm and compelling drama about personal obsession and parental mistakes.

Living from chip to chip, Huck is a Sin City swindler to whom people seemingly surrender in exchange for entertaining stories to tell. While raising a stake for the World Series of Poker, Huck falls for a new-to-town chanteuse (Drew Barrymore) and, in several mesmerizing, heated exchanges, butts heads with his estranged poker-champ dad (Robert Duvall, in the rare Zeroes role where he’s not window-dressing).

“Lucky You” concerns itself with wage-makers’ addictive pathological itch, their desperate hustle for cash and poker’s cult of very strange personalities over the cards that compose a winning hand. (Hanson and Eric Roth’s script does clarify that “flop” isn’t just a term to describe the film’s box office.) Its most striking “Tin Cup” kinship: Knowing vindication and victory don’t always arrive together.