Erik White's Lottery Ticket is so generally-but-not-notably bad that it's hard to even muster the critical stamina to appraise it. It's one of those movies that is rarely so unbearable that it demands that a critic warns his loyal readers away from going anywhere near it but it also contains so few positive attributes that there's very little nice to say about this semi-comedy. It falls into that critical valley where I'm forced to try to convey a shrug in words. The very likable young leads salvage this broad comedy from complete disaster but you know you're in trouble when Bow Wow is the best thing about a movie. As for the rest of it, including the script, general lack of laughs, and mostly awful supporting cast, it's a mess. But it's never such a horrendous mess that it's worth getting upset about. Every once in awhile a film comes along that's so generally mediocre that it almost defies critical appraisal. One such film is Lottery Ticket.
Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) is the straight man of Lottery Ticket, the nice kid who struggles with maniacs around every corner. One such loose cannon is his best buddy Benny (Brandon T. Jackson), a fast-talking young man who is incredibly loyal to his friend, one that he clearly sees as the brother he never had and more than just a buddy. The dynamic between Kevin and Benny is blatantly meant to bring back feelings of Ice Cube and Chris Tucker in Friday only with significantly less weed. Kevin has another loyal friend named Stacie (Naturi Naughton) who has been threatening to leave the friend zone for years and obviously will before movie's end. The dynamic between Bow Wow, Jackson, and Naughton is easily the best thing about Lottery Ticket. It's the only thing that feels genuine and these three likable leads nearly save the piece.
Sadly, the three young stars are forced to deal with a stupid screenplay that starts in motion when Kevin wins millions of dollars in the lottery. Because of the 4th of July holiday, Kevin has to hold on to the ticket for the long weekend. He tells his grandma (Loretta Devine) about the ticket and she mistakenly tells local blabbermouth Semaj (Charlie Murphy). Before he knows it, everyone is trying to get close to Kevin, The local mobster Sweet Tee (Keith David) and gold digger Nikki (Teairra Mari) have obvious motives but everyone seems to want a piece of the future millionaire, especially the ex-con Lorenzo (Gbenga Akinnagbe) and a quartet of locals who go from just hanging out on the step to being a wannabe entourage. Bill Bellamy (silly), Ice Cube (overplaying it), and Mike Epps (the most unbearable thing about the movie) pop up in small roles in this broad ensemble comedy.
Why did Lottery Ticket have to be so broad that it constantly punctures any chance of realism? The concept isn't a bad one. If you had a million-dollar ticket, who would come at you in the 72 hours before you could turn it in? Sadly, White does next-to-nothing with the premise, first going broader than your average Tyler Perry movie and then, disgustingly, turning the piece into a manipulative melodrama about giving back to your community in the final act. Lottery Ticket is ultimately a harmless comedy that simply misses its mark instead of falling completely flat. It feels more like it's just the product of a series of bad decisions instead of a complete disaster. But just barely.
Rating: ONE AND A HALF BONES
Reviewed by Brian Tallerico (MovieRetriever.com Film Critic)
Release Date: August 20th, 2010
Starring: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Loretta Devine, Ice Cube, Keith David, Terry Crews, Mike Epps, Charlie Murphy, Bill Bellamy, and Gbenga Akinnagbe
Director: Erik White
Writer: Abdul Williams