Posted in: Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on November 1st, 2011
Colin Hanks is a serial killer. If you watch Dexter on Showtime, you know that already. On Dexter, Hanks is playing a conflicted messenger of God who is dour and unhappy and under the control of another to do horrific and brutal murders. In Lucky, he seems more like a regular guy. That’s the kind of guy that Hanks normally plays. He is usually someone who is kind of smart and nerdy with a somewhat preppy and fussy edge. He is different than his father, Tom. Tom Hanks had a natural ease and humor that could be described as irrepressible over the years. Colin is more reserved and repressed and guarded with a friendly but detached air. He generally plays good-natured good eggs, but it’s clear he wants to broaden his range, so now he’s playing killers.
In the case of Lucky, Hanks is good natured and mild-mannered, most of the time. Lucky is a comedy about a serial killer who wins the lottery. The real heart of the story is that Hanks has an obsessive love that has somewhat controlled his life. Circumstances have delivered the girl he has dreamed of all his life into his arms. Will it cure his homicidal tendencies, and will he live happily ever after?
It seems we have been fascinated with serial killers for years. It seems more prevalent than it has ever been. Two shows completely devote themselves to the phenomenon, Dexter and Criminal Minds. It’s hard for me to believe that the incidents of serial killing are so pervasive. Murders happen every day, so it’s important to differentiate the simple murder from a serial killing. It mostly has to do with the psychology and obsession behind it.
A serial killer, as typically defined, is an individual who has killed three or more people over a period of more than a month with a pattern of spacing between the murders, and whose motivation is emotional gratification. In my opinion, it is not easy to generalize or simply this subject. Crime and murder are acts of irrationality on any level. They are acts of anti-social behavior. People who commit these acts, on some level, do not care about other people. One prevalent characteristic of serial killers is a tendency to treat other people as if they are objects which are unimportant or insignificant. A sociopath has no emotional connection to another person’s value or worth. You cannot kill another person if you value them in any way. There are no simple answers, and endless variations on this theme exists.
In Lucky, Hanks seems like the opposite of any kind of killer that we have ever seen. I should make clear that the tagline on the cover of the DVD is “Even a Serial Killer Can Win the Lottery”. It is also discussed on the back cover. The issue is not whether he is a serial killer but whether he can find love and happiness now that he has everything he could ever want. It is also important to note that he is not like any serial killer I have ever seen. He doesn’t seem obsessed. He doesn’t seem terribly disturbed. He seems normal and well-adjusted. He just happens to have a little problem with repressed desire, but don’t we all.
He wants the girl that he fell in love with when he was a kid, and he finally gets her. That’s the real focus. He was killing girls that looked like her because he had a repressed desire that he can now relive and fulfill. Ari Graynor (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) is the girl, and her performance is just short of a tour de force. She is crazed and on the edge and is at the perfect moment to grab on to lottery boy as the answer to all her problems. They both have issues with questionable behavior and judgment. Will they be able to overcome their problems? That is the real question. One important point is that her performance clearly gives the film an overwhelmingly comic tone.
The name of the director, Gil Cates, Jr. might seem familiar. It is because his is also a director but is better known as the frequent producer of the Oscars over the years. Gil Cates Jr. is not really a name himself. I think his direction is good, but ultimately the story doesn’t quite work. The premise seems very promising, and it sounds great on paper. I think it’s a good attempt but unsatisfying. The road it finally goes down seems a little off track. The ending we are left with seems inconclusive and unformed. A few minor adjustments might have made it work. The director includes some pleasant but not terribly informative commentary, and there are some other extras such as music videos and deleted scenes. None of the extras reveal where the film could have been made to be better. I still applaud the film for having a somewhat new view of the story of aberrant behavior which was in danger of being redundant.