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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Lucky Day’ on Amazon Prime, a ‘90s-Style Pulpish-Fictional Retro-Ripoff

Now on Hulu and Amazon Prime, Lucky Day is the first film credit for Roger Avary since he penned the Beowulf screenplay in 2007. Of course, Avary’s claim to fame is co-writing the greatest film of the last 40 years, Pulp Fiction, sharing an original screenplay Oscar with Quentin Tarantino. He also directed Killing Zoe and The Rules of Attraction, and we can’t help but wonder if his new film pushes forward or looks back.

LUCKY DAY: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: Crispin Glover stares into the camera, and it’s not friendly. Cut to a jail cell, where Red (Luke Bracey) is spending his last day of his sentence. A little girl narrates — Red is her dad, her mom told her he was an astronaut who went to Mars for two years, and she remembers the day he finally came home because it was full of “blood and carnage” and it changed her life forever. Red walks out of prison to the sound of vintage surf rock, and into the arms of his wife Chloe (Nina Dobrev), who has a Mia Wallace bob-and-bangs. He calls her “honeybun,” possibly because “honeybunny” was already taken.

Back to Glover, who plays Luc, a not-very-nice French man. He Chigurhs his way through town, acquiring guns from a bartender with a Hitler mustache and then doin’ it with Hitler bartender’s girlfriend and then doin’ her altogether, and handing the cuckold the used condom on the way out. He’s on a collision course with Red of course, because if one storyline exists in a movie and another storyline exists in the same movie, they’ll inevitably intersect. Meanwhile, Red reconnects with Chloe (nudge wink), hugs his daughter and agrees to attend Chloe’s art opening that night, in that order. Chloe paints giant canvases of ultra-realistic prison cinder-block walls because Avary finds that edgy and funny.

As Chloe fends off the art gallery proprietor’s (David Hewlett) grabby hands, Red visits his buddy Leroy (Cle Bennett) at their safe shop, and then visits the $600,000 in bonds they stashed in a gigantic safe before Red went to the clink. Aha, we think, perhaps that’s what Luc is gutting and rutting his way towards.

LUCKY DAY MOVIE STREAMING
Photo: Everett Collection

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Imagine the worst possible combination of Pulp Fiction and No Country for Old Men, and you’ve got Lucky Day.

Performance Worth Watching: The last time I witnessed Crispin Glover’s inscrutability was a decade ago, in Hot Tub Time Machine. Jesus wept. He’s an impeccable sphinx-man who would be tremendous in a similar rageaholic-assassin role in a better movie. He should play a John Wick bad guy or something.

Memorable Dialogue: “Your narrative is showing.” — a snooty art critic cuts into Chloe’s work at the art opening

Sex and Skin: Loud, noisy rutting shot to emphasize the dog that’s so desperately trying to interrupt it.

Our Take: Lucky Day is a deep-irony movie in the post-irony era. The only way it could be more ironic is if it was a Stephen Miller donation to the NAACP. I consulted talented movie archaeologists, who carbon-dated its tone to Sept. 27, 1996, the exact day when 2 Days in the Valley came out. It’s spiked with overzealous bits of sexism, racism and homophobia, then dismisses it with a jokey shrug, too smug to make any type of satirical commentary. The film is the sound of flippant bulls roaring and rumbling down the aisles at Blockbuster Video.

After Beowulf debuted, Avary spent some time in prison on a DUI manslaughter charge, so maybe Lucky Day is his way of turning his experience inside-out. I hesitate to psychoanalyze from afar, but maybe the movie functions as a personal metaphor of some kind, stocked with symbols representing his various angels and demons. If so, I hope it was cathartic for him. But for the rest of us, the movie feels pointless, an exercise in cliches and snark. It’s a loosely plotted collection of scenes in which likable crooks (sigh) exchange overwritten dialogue (sigh sigh) before a lot of violence occurs (sigh sigh sigh). Maybe Avary was one of the originators of this style; maybe it’s time he tried something new.

Our Call: SKIP IT. Lucky Day really, really, REALLY wants to remind you that Roger Avary won an Oscar for co-writing Pulp Fiction.

Stream Lucky Day on Amazon Prime

Stream Lucky Day on Hulu

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