You’ve already seen Lottery Ticket. No really, you have. Don’t believe me? If you’ve seen a Friday movie, a ‘Madea’ flick, Barbershop, or Beauty Shop, then you know exactly what to expect out of Lottery Ticket. Here you have the same movie with new characters, new antics, and a couple of questionable attempts at humor that are a little offensive.
Lottery Ticket delivers a fairly hum-drum plot. Kevin (Bow Wow) lives with his grandmother in the ‘hood and is a recent high school graduate. He has some real talent at designing sneakers but he doesn’t believe that he can afford college, so he resolves to work at Foot Locker instead. The Mondo Millions lottery has spiked to $370 million, and he plays numbers from a fortune cookie, which is presented by his best friend Stacie (Naturi Naughton) – the nice-girl that he has yet to realize is The One for him. Needless to say, Kevin hits the jackpot. Upon trying to turn in the ticket with his other friend Benny (Brandon T. Jackson), he finds out that because it’s the 4th of July weekend, he has to hold that ticket for three days until the offices open back up. As Benny so thoughtfully remarks, “It’s only three days…What could go wrong?” Let the antics ensue.
Basically, no matter how hard he tries to keep the big win a secret, word makes it’s way to the town gossip (Charlie Murphy) and now everyone in the neighborhood is trying to get at him. This includes the “Godfather of the ‘Hood” (Keith David), his henchman (Terry Crews), a gold-digger (Teairra Mari), a Jim Bakker-esque preacher (Mike Epps), and Lorenzo (Gbenga Akinnagbe) — a thug who’s just been released from prison. The only one who doesn’t want a piece of his money is crazy old Mr. Washington (Ice Cube), who’s a retired boxer. Throw in a bunch of slapstick, plenty of foot chases, actors hamming up their stereotypical characters, and that’s how this movie gets slapped with a ‘comedy’ label.
Any humor that can be sucked out of Lottery Ticket relies entirely upon those aforementioned elements. I guess some might find these kinds of things funny, but I see them as serious issues. There’s a so-called friend of Kevin who pulls a gun on a mob of neighbors (as they are chasing him down) to protect him. A gun! None of the characters act shocked or scared, they just stand there with their arms crossed and a gun pointed at their heads. Several times Kevin is running for his life, held at gun-point, or beaten to a pulp while the whole neighborhood stands by and watches. These are meant to be funny scenes, but I’m more concerned that no one was willing to step up and help out! These same neighbors resort to calling Kevin a snitch when he succeeds in getting Lorenzo picked up by the cops for stealing instead of applauding him. The gold-digger Traci gets very provocative in what I first perceived as an attempt to simply woo Kevin, but then was shocked to find out that all she wants is some unprotected sex with him to become a multi-millionaire’s baby mama. Really? Come on. There are also plenty of silly references squeezed in for extra “laughs,” like calling Lorenzo a “super-thug,” or telling each other to “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
First time director Erik White seems to struggle with the tone of the movie. There were many scenes that were not in sync with the rest of the film; a sappy story about Mr. Washington’s struggles in life, the shocking moments of violence and sexuality, and the flat and forced ‘all about the community’ kind of ending. I know all directors have to start somewhere, and not everyone can produce The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi), This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner), or Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze) on their first try. White definitely has places to go from here, and I’m sure will go on to do much better films.
Overall, Lottery Ticket is just another predictable comedy geared toward an African-American crowd that barely wavers from the preset formula. There are overly-stereotypical characters, plenty of sucker-punches and ‘nut shots,’ and eventually and “uplifting” message about community bonding and giving back. Of course, this doesn’t appear until the last 10 minutes or so of the film. Now it’s just up to movie-goers to decide if their money would be better spent trying to get some entertainment out of Lottery Ticket, or actually buying some real lottery tickets. Unfortunately, both only supply you with false hopes and dreams.
I give Lottery Ticket 2 “Terry, you’re so crazy!” out of 5.