Based on a true story, an aspiring New York City sportscaster’s life is on the slow track until he serendipitously gets the old cell phone number of a basketball superstar. Will the number be his ticket to success or a path to destruction?
“#Lucky Number” is a movie that brought me back to my 1980’s youth-filled, teenage years, when R-rated comedies weren’t afraid to hit you with everything they had and studios didn’t tremble in gutlessness for fear that some family-oriented organization would be waiting to bash their film as soon as it opened, forcing them to re-edit it down to a more kid-friendly classification, then pressuring the filmmakers for an apology for the movie’s adult content. Obviously “#Lucky Number” will not appeal to everyone but for those that do find it entertaining, they will not be disappointed. There are adult situations galore, foul language, sexual connotations, violence but then director Brendan Gabriel Murphy has the audacity to add in a romantic melodrama as well as authentic characters that we genuinely care about and we end up with a funny, foul-mouthed, violent, love story. Take that Quentin Tarantino!
After being dumped by his cheating girlfriend Jules (Lauren Francesca), Bret (Tom Pelphrey) begins receiving sexually explicit photos from her, showing him what he’s missing out on so he goes to the city to get a new phone and number. At the same time, his childhood hero, basketball superstar Tyson ‘The Saint’ St. James (Clifford Smith), needs a new phone and number after his wife puts her stiletto through his phone, accusing him of cheating on her. As fate would have it, Bret winds up with Tyson’s old number and it’s not long before he begins receiving texts from celebrities, sponsors and beautiful women, offering him free cars, bling, condos and sex. He quickly puts two and two together but instead of returning the number, he plays along and pretends to be a friend of Tyson’s and along with his two buddies Garrett (Malcolm Goodwin) and Michael (Joseph Russo), they begin living the high life.
At a party one night, Bret meets Nikki (Natalie Hall), the beautiful daughter of the owner of the team that Tyson plays for and he is immediately smitten but instead of coming clean with her about his phone and his new privileged lifestyle, he keeps up appearances and continues lying to her. It’s not long after that Tyson realizes what is going on and after Nikki uncovers Bret’s lying and lack of integrity and leaves him, and Bret and his two friends get an ass-whooping from Tyson and his teammates, Bret must evaluate his situation and figure out a way to win Nikki back while proving that he has indeed changed. The story is actually based on true events but quite honestly, while it’s conceivable that a phone number mix-up could actually transpire, just how much of the ‘real story’ makes it into the finished film remains to be seen but in the end, it’s the movie that matters and “#Lucky Number” is pure, unadulterated fun.
Both Tom Pelphrey and Natalie Hall have undeniable onscreen chemistry and with the love story angle, that is half the battle. When they look at each other, it feels authentically real so when the inevitable break-up materializes, you feel like slapping Bret upside the head and telling him to get his life together. Mr. Pelphrey embodies many of the similarities and traits that Justin Long incorporates and Ms. Hall is eerily evocative of a young Rachel McAdams but they are a convincing onscreen pairing. Clifford Smith a/k/a Method Man shows a natural propensity for comedy and along with his aforementioned co-stars, steals almost every scene he is in. Director Brendan Gabriel Murphy has crafted an old-fashioned adult comedy, reminiscent of such 1980’s classics as “Porky’s,” “Meatballs” and “Up the Creek” and it’s just a shame that other filmmakers don’t have the same fearlessness in creating more movies of this class.
Available on VOD including Dish, DirecTV, Google Play and iTunes Sept. 1 and DVD (Wal-Mart) October 6th and nationwide October 20th
For more info about James visit his website at www.IrishFilmCritic.com