Good Luck Chuck
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There are a few firm rules of childhood learned, at least in part, from the movies: 1) Be careful with BB guns, because you can put somebody's eye out. 2) Never feed Gremlins after midnight. 3) Don't play spin the bottle.
Consider Charlie's tale of woe. A not-so-innocent 10-year-old, Charlie is forced through a twist of the bottle to spend seven minutes in a closet with a girl who dresses like Wednesday Addams and has the libido of Britney Spears. She rips open his shirt and her own shirt (revealing a bra), twists his nipples and scratches his chest.
When he freaks out, she asks, "What's the matter? Don't you want me?" Charlie doesn't, which sends the girl into a rage.
"You are not my boyfriend anymore," she tells him. "I hex you." Specifically, she tells Charlie that every girl he goes out with will find true love in another's arms.
Fast-forward 22 years. Charlie, now a successful dentist, has forgotten all about the "hex." But his ex-girlfriends have noticed a curious pattern: Once they sleep with Charlie, they get married to the next guy they go out with.
"Thank you, Charlie, for being my lucky charm," one bride says by way of a toast at her wedding reception.
Suddenly, Charlie's waiting room is filled with gorgeous gigglers and his answering machine is glutted with messages from strangers. Everyone, it seems, is looking for love—and Charlie's bed seems to be a shortcut to finding it.
Charlie cashes in for a time. But tawdry temptation eventually crashes headlong into a woman he comes to believe is his perfect match: Cam, a clumsy-but-beautiful penguin expert. Suddenly, Charlie's hex looks like the Gift of Midas, Hugh Hefner edition. Beautiful women are falling all over themselves to be with him, but all he really wants is a steady relationship with Cam. And the hex makes that impossible.
Good Luck Chuck pays lip service to the beauty of monogamy. Cam's favorite penguins are those that mate for life, and she tells Charlie that she's "not into dating as a sport." And the film, perhaps against its own intentions, hints at how boring sex without love can be.
Charlie is reluctant at first to use the hex to its hedonistic fullest. "I don't want to take advantage of you," he tells one woman. (But his hesitancy doesn't last long. And when he begins to embrace the hex, he excuses his actions as some sort of twisted "good deed." "You've done a good thing, Charlie, helping people find love," says his receptionist, who's not just an advisor, she's a "beneficiary" too.)
Charlie tells Cam he goes to Guatemala every year to "help out poor villagers."
The girl who placed the hex on Charlie wears a pentagram around her neck, and the movie's intent is clearly to show her as some sort of 10-year-old witch. We meet this "witch" as an adult years later and learn that she also used a voodoo doll to curse Charlie. Her daughter wears the same pentagram.
The receptionist tells Charlie's friend, Stu (a plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reduction and augmentation), that she doesn't want him fooling around with her breasts. "I'm more than happy with what the Lord Almighty gave to me," she says.
But that's not where Good Luck Chuck stops when it comes to breasts—which make sans-clothes appearances throughout the movie. The most graphic sex scenes take place once Charlie agrees to sleep with any woman who asks—almost all of whom, strangely enough, look like they just stepped off the fashion runway. To get as much titillation on the screen as possible, freshman director Mark Helfrich shows several sex acts at a time, splitting the screen into two, four, even nine sections—like a veritable Rubik's Cube of skin-filled indulgence. We see lots of body parts, lots of movement and just about every sexual position physically possible.
When characters aren't actually engaged in sex, they're talking about actually engaging in it. Seemingly incapable of uttering a sentence that's not both sexual and sick, Stu is particularly loathsome. He has pictures of breasts spread across his office walls. He has Pamela Anderson's implants displayed in a special case by his door. And he tells Charlie that he masturbates while looking at his patients' mammograms. (Charlie walks in on him as he's masturbating—and we see the "toys" he's utilizing.) Stu even asks one of his patients to expose herself to Charlie so Charlie can tell her whether they're "even" or not. When Stu hooks up with his own steady girlfriend, it's largely because she has an extra breast in the middle of her chest.
By comparison—but only by comparison—Cam is downright prudish. She resists having sex with Charlie for, oh, at least three dates. (Charlie, fearful Cam will succumb to the hex, runs out of the house while Cam lies waiting for him, naked in bed). Cam talks dirty over the phone and sends a nude picture of herself via her cell phone camera. She never exposes critical parts of herself to the audience, though we do see her in various stages of undress, and her bare shoulders and legs get loads of screen time.
Charlie shows more: We see him naked on several occasions. Objects (nude women, more often than not) obstruct views of his genitals. Audiences see a full rear shot of his backside when he drops his trousers to show a woman his penis.
Chuck's entire premise is based on sex, so perhaps none of this content is too surprising in the more-than-OK-with-R-rated-movies world we live in. But it should be. I could go on (and on and on) reciting further examples of nudity, obscenity and innuendo. Instead, though, I want to draw particular attention to two rather disturbing scenes that bookend this salacious story:
The opening spin-the-bottle party is jarring, largely because you have 10-year-olds propositioning each other far more directly than you'd likely find booze-filled adults doing so in the cheapest of bars.
Then, as the credits roll, Stu and his three-breasted girlfriend (house-sitting for the vacationing Charlie and Cam) find and watch a homemade sex tape on which Charlie is pretending to have sex with a stuffed penguin. The ritual apparently arouses Cam, who's heard groaning from behind the camera.
Evidently, penguins are violent critters. Cam, who works with them at a local aquarium, is bowled over by one flightless varmint who's sliding down an ice chute. Cam goes flying, hitting her face on a fake rock and chipping a tooth. (It's not the only time she smashes into something.)
Getting her tooth repaired, Cam accidentally sends a tray of sharp dental implements flying. Several lodge in Charlie's back, leaving bloody marks on his shirt. Later that night, as Charlie and Cam try to jump-start Cam's car, Cam starts it up at an inappropriate time. The sudden jolt throws Charlie away from the car, singed and smoking.
When Charlie takes a dive into the penguins' swimming pool, he's attacked by oodles of the feisty, tuxedoed waterfowl. One bites him in a fairly critical place.
Elsewhere, Charlie mistakes one of Cam's friends as a would-be suitor and assaults him with an inflatable penguin. Stu hits a young boy and old woman with a Frisbee. Charlie flings the disk into Stu's privates.
Crude or Profane Language
Characters use the f-word nearly 20 times, and throw in the s-word at least another dozen. Most of the other crude and vulgar words (at least 30 of the them, all told) are references to sexual body parts. God's name is misused a half-dozen times (twice alongside "d--n"). Jesus' name is also abused.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Cam's brother, who also works at the aquarium, is the stereotypical laid-back pot smoker. When Cam asks him where he was with the penguin's lunch, he says he was taking five ... "five hits from my bong." He's never shown smoking it, but there are a few references to his stash. Cam "finds" a dope pipe protruding from the pocket of the shorts her brother's wearing.
Cam and Charlie drink champagne at a wedding, and Cam is shown drinking a glass of wine. Charlie downs several shots of liquor as he's preparing to have sex with a huge, pimply conquest—a test tryst to see if there really is such a thing as a curse.
Other Negative Elements
The morbidly obese conquest mentioned above lets out a huge stream of gas when Charlie first asks her out. Charlie nearly retches at the thought of bedding her, but he does so anyway. Afterwards, he frantically scrubs his nether regions in the shower.
Jessica Alba, who plays Cam, has said she won't appear completely nude in movies, and stays true to her promise in Good Luck Chuck. A lot of good that does anyone, considering how many other women do strip down to nothing. She should have really changed her pledge to not appearing at all in any movie that's utterly reprehensible—both morally and artistically. Then she could have skipped this lousy loser, because that's exactly what it is.
There is one important message that inadvertently slips through the sleaze: People are desperate for love. "Do you know how many times I've given myself, body, mind and soul," hoping to find true love? asks one of Charlie's trysts. For years, she's given the boys everything they've asked for in hopes that she'd eventually find someone to honor, cherish and love.
It's a bitter statement of where our culture of sex has led us—how society as a whole has mistaken sex for relationship, libido for love.
But just as quickly as it brings up the issue, Good Luck Chuck drops it again and dives into a callous celebration of exactly what it started moralizing against. I guess you could say it treats sex a little like a cocaine addict might treat his drug—telling a bystander to never start the stuff even as he's snorting a line.