Monday, March 13, 2006

Micheal Moore in "Lucky Numbers"

A few years ago I saw the movie Lucky Numbers. It was a quirky comedy starring Vinnie Barbarino, Al Bundy and the least attractive chick from "Friends."

Sorry, I didn't watch "Friends" too much, but I did get my hair cut like Jennifer Aniston back in the early 1990s.

I got swept up in Rachael-Mania.

Anyway, this gaggle of television stars were assembled to tell the story of the people that rigged the Pennsylvania Lottery back in 1980.

The film strays quite a bit from the true story, but the basic plot of both is as follows:

A local TV personality conspires with others to fix the lottery. They do so by injecting numbered ping pong balls with paint to weigh them down. They then switched the "fixed" balls with the official ones; and switched back after the drawing.

In real life, the announcer was Rick Perry. He was caught and sent to jail.

In the movie, the announcer was John Travolta. He got away with the lottery fix, but went on to make a long string of box office duds including: Basic, Swordfish, The Punisher, A Love Song for Bobby Long and Be Cool.

Hmmm, "jail" or The Punisher? I guess jail is a LITTLE worse.

I saw Lucky Numbers when it was in theaters back in 2000. I liked it, and found a used copy of the DVD and watched it again. After that I put on the director's commentary track. About 30 minute in, the lackluster Nora Ephron voice track revealed something very interesting:

Micheal Moore was in this film.

At this point I had seen a couple of his documentaries and was pretty familiar with him.

I certainly wouldn't say I was a fan, but I enjoyed some of his work.

I have since learned a dirty little secret about Micheal Moore's films that makes them seem less impressive; he actually shoots very little of his films. What he does instead is purchase footage from outside sources (ie. cable news networks, other documentaries) and COMPILE a film.

I took away a bit of the mystique of the "muckraking journalist digging deep to find the truth" and becomes "guy taping a lot of CNN and showing you a highlight reel."

Regardless of what you think of Micheal Moore as a filmmaker, what I found interesting was that he was A REALLY GOOD ACTOR!

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He was so good that I didn't recognize him. It's hard to believe looking at the film today, but at the time he was not AS familiar a face on TV. Plus he had gained a whole lot of weight since his big hit Roger & Me.

I didn't expect to see him in the film, but that is NOT the main reason I didn't recognize him.

The main reason was because he really BECAME the character.

In the film he played Walter, Lisa Kudrow's perverted, asthmatic cousin.

He's really funny in the part and is one of the brightest spots in a very funny film.

If only I get a chance to see Bill O'Reilly share the screen with Cheech Marin and Kirstie Alley, my life will be complete.


  1. Anyone else see Lucky Numbers? I think it was panned and flopped at the box office, but it was a really funny flick.

  2. Never heard of it, but it sounds interesting.

  3. I've never seen this but I did almost watch a documentary about the same lottery fix on Game Show Network. Is that close enough?

  4. Sho 'nuff! I actually caught the "Anything to Win" documentary on GSN this week, which inspired me to watch the film again, which inspired me to write the post, which inspired me to dream of a world where Bill O'reilly and Cheech lived in harmony.

    The documentary was fascinating. I like cheaters.

  5. Anonymous3/14/2006

    In this film Moore is adorable. He seems to be learning how to act as she goes along, but isn't that how most of them did it? Give him a few more years and some better scripts to work with and she could be a major star. The bright primary colors in which the plot, dialog and characters of this movie are cast gives it away early on: this is a cross between a soap opera and a sitcom, made purely to entertain. As such, it's actually pretty good. Moore plays Anna Foster, the 18 year-old daughter of the President of the United States (Mark Harmon). Anna has a dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without an army of Secret Service agents around her at all times. An impossible blend of strength, integrity, natural beauty, youth, feistiness, femininity and vulnerability - Moore delivered a performance so genuine and moving it totally stunned me. He was utterly spellbinding in every scene he was in - which was most of them. I thought his rendition of "Its gonna be love" during the school play was cinematic magic. He was for those moments, every man's dream and the epitome of virginal translucence. I don't know - I'm way too old for a middle life crisis, maybe its the onset of dementia, but this film really got to me. Never in all these years have I come across as beautiful and pure a character as Jamie Sullivan - and to think I gave MTV the flick whenever Britney-clone Mr. Moore, started up his song of the month. Say what you want about all the historical inaccuracies in this film Michael Moore still accomplishes the overall goal of the director. Moore did not make this film simply intending to tell a story of Flint, Michigan. Instead he aimed to build support for the working class in a battle against the corporate elite. Sure, the fact that the GM layoffs forcing 30,000 Flint residents into unemployment and effectively destroying the city's economy actually took place slowly over a long period of time slightly diminishes the shock value of the film. However, one must remember that these are still real people Moore is interviewing, and their lives have been altered by the layoffs. It does not matter if they were laid off in 1981 or 1984 or years later. The sad state their lives are in is more than enough to prove that the GM layoffs did so significant, although possibly not as significant as Moore would have us believe. Call it manipulative, unrealistic, contrived, saccharine, whatever your pleasure - but I absolutely lost my heart to Moore's character here. Perhaps the deep-rooted protective instinct in my nature, maybe a reminder of what I never found but always desired, but I would be lying if I did not admit to falling totally in love with Jamie, matter of fact that would be an understatement. The movie begins with Moore going on a first date, and the Secret Service agents ruining it. The real problem is that for the movie's target audience of middle-class suburban white teenagers it's positively overflowing with groaners -- embarrassing "banter" between the kids, cartoonish characters (idiotic philandering husbands, evil boy-stealing girlfriends), and a preposterous storyline. My own teenage daughter and her friends thought the movie was, and I quote, "stupid." But for us middle-aged parents nostalgic for a time in their lives they've almost completely forgotten, it really isn't that bad. On a trip to Europe, Moore ditches the Secret Service agents and meets Ben (Matthew Goode). Moore thinks she is finally free to live like other teenagers, and she sets out to tour Europe with Ben, with whom she falls in love. This is a lighthearted, enjoyable comedy. The story is thin, but the landscapes of Europe are beautiful. Give it a chance. By the way, it does so help being a hopeless romantic!

  6. Anonymous3/15/2006

    A lotto scandal!! Perhaps Micheal Moore can investigate... or just re-edit the GSN show and release it to theaters.