Just about every critic is going to come up with an analogy – playing off the title – to describe the movie Lottery Ticket. Let’s see how many I can predict throughout this review. Sure it’s not the most creative approach to a review, but the people who brought us this mess didn’t care about that aspect either. For starters, take the $8-$10 one would spend on this at the theater and buy real lottery tickets. It will be more satisfying rather than sitting through this 100 minute feature which lacks imagination. At least the ideas in your head will have creativity when pondering what you’ll do with the money.
Producers, directors, actors can’t stand to read or hear certain words regarding their work. One of these harsh words is “Standard.” The plot in Lottery Ticket is exactly what one thinks it is. Standard hijinx. Person wins the lottery, and people all have their hands out. Plus the winner may have to avoid obstacles turning it in. Okay, so let’s examine (no pun intended) this idea.
Flicks dealing with the rags-to-riches angle will cover the person immediately receiving the money and playing with it, or in Lottery Ticket’s case, someone who has to survive to get the money. Both avenues have room to be funny but mixing them together doesn’t mesh right. This frog-in-a-blender presentation tried to encompass everything to a fault. After Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) wins the $370 million jackpot, he wants to keep it quiet. Well his Grandma (Loretta Devine) can’t contain herself and tells the neighborhood gossip king (Charles Murphy) and the whole project-like area becomes aware. Since the lottery office is closed for Fourth of July, Kevin must wait until the holiday passes to turn in his ticket.
Neighborhood thug Lorenzo (Gbenga Akinnagbe) just got out of jail and wants to bully Kevin into giving him the ticket. Meanwhile, just about the whole community tries to trick Kevin into helping them with their own cause. People such as the pimp-like Reverend Taylor (Mike Epps) trying to get money for a new church (castle), or Mafia man Sweet Tea (Keith David) looking to blackmail Kevin into being a financier for his own agenda. Even local hottie Nikki (Teairra Mari) using her feminine assets in an attempt to have Kevin’s baby in hopes of securing a piece of the fortune. Kevin tries to avoid all his new “friends” and can only trust his long time friend Benny (Brandon T. Jackson) and the neighborhood hermit living in the boiler room, Mr. Washington (Ice Cube). Along with the foreshadowed love interest in Stacie (Nautri Naughton).
Two flicks come to mind that have handled this type of plot fairly well. One is Brewster’s Millions starring the late Richard Pryor. Most recently, The Invention of Lying had fun with someone coming into wealth and power. Both flicks were creative with the script and the actions of all the characters. Lottery Ticket is so formulmatic one will not care what the outcome will be. Professionalism kept me from walking out of the theater. The opening sequence is all one needs to see to know where this is going. It starts out with a live newscast with a reporter asking people waiting to buy tickets what they would do if they won. Out of the nine or ten answers given, only one can get an audience to chuckle. So much fun could have been had here, yet the writers and director decided to not go above and beyond. As far as movie mechanics go, the only element they got right was setting the tone in the beginning. Unfortunately, it was set to dog crap.
A few glimpses of hope were noticeable. The cast, to their credit, did try to make this work. However, too much emphasis was put on delivery instead of the writing. There are some talented performers (resume wise) but even with their strong efforts, they could not bring any life to the elementary dialogue. A handful of shots had a nice set up and atmosphere to go along with the action taking place in the respective scene. They’re just not enough to entice an audience to get on board with this predictable display.
Overall, Lottery Ticket refuses to find a winning combination within the script. It’s dated and lifeless even though the cast attempts to bring solid energy. Littered with clichéd moments and ancient humor, one has a better chance at winning the lottery than being entertained by this. The entertainment value of this is as about misleading as the “Dollar and a dream” marketing ploy. Don’t buy into the hype (trailer) people.
Lottery Ticket is rated PG-13 and opens in the Tampa Bay market on Friday.