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

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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.

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Jessica Alba and Dane Cook star in Good Luck Chuck, a film that falters partly because there is little chemistry evident between the two actors.  Lionsgate Films/Special
Lionsgate Films/Special
Jessica Alba and Dane Cook star in Good Luck Chuck, a film that falters partly because there is little chemistry evident between the two actors.

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.

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