Film Review: Lucky Them misses the mark
Lucky Them sees Toni Collette play Ellie Klug, a veteran music journalist whose career has seriously hits the skids, as whisky drinking and casual relationships with young musicians increasingly take precedence over her writing.
Given one last chance to prove her value to her magazine’s editor, she is dispatched to discover what really happened to rock-legend Matthew Smith, who, as well as disappearing without trace ten years ago, also happens to be her ex-boyfriend.
The music world that the film’s writers have created for Ellie seems rather contrived… she works in big, supercool warehouse offices with a grumpy editor barking orders, her fish are called Kurt and Courtney (sigh), she discovers cool new artists busking, she has the obligatory quirky bartender friend, she’s talented but undisciplined. Yadda yadda. So, just like how the film Notting Hill was absolutely nothing like the real Notting Hill, you have to take a bigleap of faith and accept this setting as true. Maybe music journalism was like this up until the 1990s, but it feels very caricatured here.
Toni Collette is always great, but in this movie she is battling a pretty flimsy script. Also, her character isn’t especially nice, which makes it hard to be concerned about her plight. If she doesn’t find her ex and deliver the story, she’s going to get sacked. Do we really care? After all, this is a woman who treats her men pretty shittily Female journalist portrayed kinda negatively in a movie? Again? Really? Oh come on. As someone who works in the industry, I was especially disappointed to see a mature female music journalist portrayed as a neurotic, musician-shagging, booze-drinking mess when this is completely unrepresentative.
Thank goodness then, for Thomas Haden Church, who absolutely nails it as an eccentric amateur documentary filmmaker. He hits the road with Ellie in the search of this missing rock star and consistently delivers killer, deadpan one-liners. It’s a weird and brilliant performance. The chemistry with Collette is excellent and papers over other cracks sufficiently enough. Pretty much all of the laughs in the film – which are titters rather than guffaws – come from Thomas Haden Church and his interactions with Collette.
There is an interesting cameo at the film’s climax, which sees the film’s lead really show her acting chops, but ultimately Lucky Them just feels unsatisfactory in both its level of humour and its representation of its protagonist, despite its female director. Ultimately, all it really does is nod towards much better films, and you’ll be left wishing you were watching the rock journalism yarn of Almost Famous, or the mid-life misery of Sideways instead.
Review by Bobby Townsend.