Gratuitous 'Chuck' runs out of luck, but curse lingers on

Too sweet to be a raunchy sex comedy and far too explicit to qualify as date-night fare, Good Luck Chuck suffers from not knowing what it wants to be when it grows up.

The movie stars Dane Cook as a dentist afflicted with filmdom's oddest curse. Any woman with whom he has, er, "relations" will find true love with the next man she meets. When he meets, and predictably falls for a penguin expert (yes, really) played by Jessica Alba, he is faced with the difficult choice of celibacy or rolling the dice and letting nature -- or voodoo, or whatever it is that has a hold of him -- take its course.

Given the correct treatment, this might have been a significant hit, but it follows the When Harry Did Sally model, and that's where the wheels fall off.

A textbook case of gratuitousness, the film shoehorns in unnecessary sequences of the "curse" at work, unpleasant gags about obesity and plastic surgery and a relatively repugnant best friend (the very talented Dan Fogler) that do nothing to move the plot along and instead seem to exist to tempt and titillate an audience's baser instincts.

The sad truth is that even without the additional "material," Good Luck Chuck probably would have faltered. There is little chemistry between Mr. Cook and Ms. Alba, and the story, while sticky sweet in a Hollywood sort of way, is neither original nor compelling. It has a good heart, a bad start and an inability to tell its tale.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

HOME SCREENING

TITLE: GOOD LUCK CHUCK (Lionsgate; $29.95)

THE VERDICT: ** out of *****

DVD EXTRAS: The most compelling documentary is, frankly, difficult to discuss in a family newspaper. Let's just say that it involves an unexpected special effect dealing with the human anatomy. Trust me. You'll know it when you see it.

TAKE IT HOME

JUST OUT: Good Luck Chuck and Raising Flagg

COMING TUESDAY: Reservation Road, Sidney White, Adrift in Manhattan, The Hunting Party and Moliere

JAN. 29: Canvas, The Comebacks, Daddy Day Camp, Feel the Noise, Ira & Abby, Mr. Untouchable, The Nines, Right at Your Door and Rocket Science

FEB. 5: Across The Universe, Americanizing Shelley, The Aristocats: Special Edition, Blind Dating, The Brave One, Descent, Feast of Love, Great World of Sound, The Jane Austen Book Club and 2 Days In Paris

FEB. 12: Gone Baby Gone, Into The Wild, Introducing the Dwights, Martian Child, No Reservations, Romance & Cigarettes, We Own The Night and Why Did I Get Married?

FEB. 19: Lust, Caution, and Rendition

FEB. 26: 30 Days of Night

MARCH 11: Nancy Drew

MARCH 18: Love in the Time of Cholera

APRIL 1: Resurrecting the Champ

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