Good Luck Chuck starts off amicably enough. Dane Cook shows a certain charm as the title character, and Jessica Alba appears to be giving one of her better screen performances, showing a gift for goofball comedy.
Then, somewhere around the halfway point, everything goes to hell.
It seems that director Mark Helfrich wants to be as disgusting as possible with his screen time, and the likable beginning is nothing but a tease. This movie is ugly as sin, a film that has no shame in the atrocities it chooses to show on screen. If you are looking for a movie with no tact, no brains and no class, Good Luck Chuck is the answer.
Cook plays Chuck, a hip dentist who has no luck with girls. The film starts with a very funny flashback. We see a young Chuck diss a goth girl during a game of spin the bottle, and she winds up putting a hex on him: Chuck will never find true love, and the girls he sleeps with will find their true loves immediately after meeting him.
Chuck meets Cam (Alba), a deranged and clumsy penguin enthusiast, at an ex-girlfriend's wedding where the bride has toasted him for being a good-luck charm. Chuck falls in love instantly with Cam, because she's Jessica Alba, and she promptly spills hot candle wax all over his pants. The hardened stain provides obscene joke fodder for Chuck's best friend, Stu (Dan Fogler of Balls of Fury).
Up until this point, and for a little while after, the film is funny and enjoyable. The budding relationship between Chuck and Cam is cute; Fogler shoots off some funny and obscene one-liners; everything seems to be going to plan. Chuck finds out he's a good-luck charm, which leads to a sex montage that left me surprised this film got an R rating. It seemed like NC-17 material to me.
Then there comes a point in the movie when Chuck's character becomes a lunatic, and all of the fun escapes from the picture. He becomes a crazed stalker, beating up people in the amusement park where Cam works, dressing up as a penguin and inundating her with gifts. While Cook plays the beginning of the movie with leading-man charisma, he is far less successful at playing a nutbag. The movie moves from quirky and obscene fun to blatant, gross-out horror with the flip of a switch.
As part of his quest to discover if he really is a good-luck charm, Chuck and Stu conspire to find the most unmarketable woman in the world, have Chuck sleep with her and then wait to see if she hooks up with her life mate soon thereafter. The nightmare comes in the form of Eleanor Skipple (Jodie Stewart), and she's presented in a way that will trigger your gag reflex, as it does Cook's in the film. Looking rather mountainous in her bikini, and unabashedly shoving lobster into her mouth, her appearance culminates with a sex-scene visual that could cause sterility in most males.
Almost none of this is fun. Cook and Alba have some chemistry together, but that's sabotaged by Helfrich's seeming desire to win the Yuckiest Film Ever award. Running gags--one involving Stu's penchant for grapefruit, and a final one involving Chuck doing repulsive things to a stuffed penguin--seem desperate.
A good gross-out comedy knows how to walk the line. There's Something About Mary is a prime example of how to balance charm with the icky sight gags. Good Luck Chuck has no balance. It's a drunken sailor with a broken leg and skates two sizes too small on a sea of ice smeared with oil. Somewhere along the line, the filmmakers decided to pull out all the stops and make this the granddaddy of disgusting cinema.
Surely, there will be those who consider this an achievement of sorts. If you can have fun with this thing, have at it. As for me, Good Luck Chuck represents some of the worst that cinema has to offer.