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Movie Review

Ashley Albright is the walking, talking—perky—personification of luck. Everything goes her way. When she walks outside on a rainy day, the clouds part. Her lottery tickets are all winners. And New York City's finest cab drivers can't stop fast enough for her.

That luck carries over to her job, too. When Ashley's co-workers miss a meeting while stuck in an elevator, she alone is left to improvise a marketing proposal for Damon Phillips, the influential CEO of Masquerade Records. Ashley's idea? Throwing a massive masquerade party to celebrate the label's success. Her boss, the impossible-to-please Peggy Braden, loves the idea and gives Ashley an office of her own and a corporate credit card to make it happen. The young woman's charmed life could hardly be going better, something her friends Maggie and Dana often point out.

Ashley's "cosmic" opposite, Jake Hardin, has a black cloud that follows him everywhere. He gets drenched by taxis plunging through puddles. He rips his pants when he bends over. Innocent misunderstandings have landed him in police custody more times than he cares to remember. At every step, his misfortunes conspire to keep him from the one thing he wants: signing McFly, a Brit-pop band he's discovered, to a big-time record deal.

It's a deal Ashley's client Damon Phillips could make happen. If only Jake could meet him—without embarrassing himself in the process. And that's why Jake decides to crash the masquerade party. The next thing he knows he's dancing with—and kissing—Asley herself ... and suddenly, presto-chango, their luck is switched.

The golden life Ashley had grown accustomed to evaporates in an instant as her heel breaks, her dress rips, and she's unexpectedly arrested and thrown in the slammer. Jake, meanwhile, immediately saves Damon Phillips' life in a "lucky" set of circumstances and is rewarded with a fat contract for McFly with Masquerade Records.

Ashley's flummoxed at first by her new bad luck, but then she remembers that everything started to go wrong right after kissing that anonymous stranger at the party. The race is on to find him and kiss him again to retrieve her stolen luck.


Positive Elements

Ashley has to lose the "good life" she's lived in order to realize what matters most. Though she's whiny after her luck first disappears, she slowly learns the value of hard work. And through the guidance of her generous friends Maggie and Dana (who invite her to live in their tiny apartment after she loses hers), she begins to discover what it means to sacrifice for someone else's needs.

[Spoiler Warning] Those lessons are accelerated after she retrieves her misplaced luck from Jake ... and then promptly gives it back to him, realizing that he needs it more than she does. In the end, both are willing to lay down their lives—err, their luck—for the other, and they admit that good fortune is less important than taking care of friends and family.

While unlucky, Jake demonstrates a great deal of good-natured tolerance for his ongoing misfortune. It's clear that he's come to terms with who he is, and he seizes every opportunity he gets to pull his eyes off himself and apply himself to the needs of others. He especially attends to his young cousin, Katie, who, incidentally, is also a self-professed "loser."

Spiritual Content

Fortune telling and astrology are closely allied occult practices strictly forbidden in the Old Testament because they constitute idolatry. Seeking an astrologer or fortune teller, known as divination, represents a lack of faith and desertion of the one true God (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:9-14).

You won't learn that by watching Just My Luck, of course. Here, not only is luck an onscreen commodity that seems randomly distributed by an unseen force called fate, but the film presents fate as something people can gain knowledge of via the occult. A mysterious fortune-teller uses Tarot cards to look into people's futures. At the masquerade, she informs Ashley that her luck is about to change because the cards say so. Sure enough, the "wheel of fortune" spins, and Ashley finds herself upside down.

Ashley's friends read their horoscopes regularly and seem to rely upon them. For her part, Ashley mocks their "scope" indulgences at first, but after her life flips, she begins to embrace their "wisdom."

By story's end, Ashley and Jake figure out an ingenious—selfless—solution to the problem of their luck switching back and forth every time they kiss. Immediately afterward, however, Ashley begins talking about the Hindu concept of karma, saying that after she helped an old lady cross the street one time, she won $100 in the lottery. It's as if Ashley can't bring herself to let go of her good luck without replacing it with another (misguided) mechanistic spiritual system.

Sexual Content

Many women at the masquerade aren't wearing much and dance seductively. Ashley frequently wears cleavage-revealing tops. One scene shows her in a camisole and boxers. When Ashley tears her dress revealingly, a friend comments, "At least you're wearing underwear." Jake has a co-worker who consistently wears very skimpy outfits and insinuates that she's very available. Ashley watches approvingly in a mirror as Jake slowly pulls his shirt off.

After Ashley innocently asks her neighbor, Antoine, to go on a blind date with her boss, Peggy gropes his butt, and it's implied that they have sex at the masquerade in a secluded corner alcove. (He paws at her and she jumps on top of him.) Then the two women discover that Antoine is a male prostitute—as do the police.

Ashley initiates a passionate kiss with Jake (who is wearing a mask and is a complete stranger to her) following a dance together. Then, trying to reclaim her luck, she kisses a long list of men as she tries to find Jake via the process of elimination. One of the men has just gotten married, and Ashley's kiss enrages his new bride. Another is in a sauna with his eyes covered; when he uncovers them, he thinks the person who kissed him is another man, and he lets the other guy know he's interested in more. (This scene also depicts several other men wearing just towels.)

After her first date with a rich bachelor, Ashley's friends ask, "Did you?!" She says they only kissed, but doesn't object to their question. A series of unfortunate events in a park leads a woman to think Jake is trying to rape her. (His pants fall down around his ankles after he knocks her down.) Tight, skin-colored performance costumes make dancers look like they're nude.

Violent Content

The physical comedy is occasionally quite violent but never seems to be permanently hurtful to those involved. Among other things, Jake is hit by a car and shatters its windshield (yet is unharmed). He's kicked in the groin by the woman at the park. And he trips over cords in a sound booth and crashes to the ground. At a bowling alley, Ashley knocks bowling balls off a wall, which then demolish a glass display case. She drops one fluorescent light and gets severely shocked by another. She even gets pulled into the pin-setting machine.

While staying with Maggie and Dana, Ashley manages to get her hair caught in a hairdryer; subsequent thrashing about results in a broken mirror, a small fire and shorted out electricity. Ashley is on the receiving end of two hard punches. And she smacks face-first into a glass wall. Jake is tackled by a cop. Chaos reigns at a restaurant when Ashley tosses salt over her shoulder and into the eyes of the owner.

Crude or Profane Language

Characters blurt out the s-word four times and take God's name in vain a dozen-plus times. Other vulgarities include one to three uses each of "a--," "a--hole," "d--n," "b--ch" and "h---."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Several scenes show various adults drinking champagne at the masquerade and at another party. One asks for a vodka. After Jake's luck changes, he moves into a posh apartment that has a bar.

Other Negative Elements

Scatological humor includes Damon picking up his dog's refuse with a five-dollar bill and throwing it away. Jake sees the money in the trash and thinks it's his lucky day. It isn't.

Ashley's attitude before losing her luck is one of entitlement. During the masquerade, she goes out for the dance with Jake rationalizing, "I deserve to have a little fun." Her lucky streak includes receiving one of actress Sarah Jessica Parker's dry-cleaned dress by mistake. She doesn't evince any scruples about keeping it for a day so that she can wear it on a big date.

Ashley frequently buys lottery tickets to determine if her luck has returned yet. And she and Jake give Katie a lottery ticket to test her luck, too. Ashley doesn't want to go home after losing her luck because relying upon her parents would mean "admitting defeat."


There are a couple of ways you can look at Just My Luck. The first is by making a comparative judgment. Compared to many of today's PG-13 films, Lindsay Lohan's latest teen-oriented flick is relatively less problematic when it comes to overtly objectionable content. Whereas many movies aiming at the teen market push sexual imagery and profanity to the edge of an R-rating, Just My Luck doesn't go quite as far.

Rendering a more absolute judgment, Just My Luck causes real concern. Its general mindset toward sex is casual. For example, Ashley's friends immediately inquire if she slept with a guy on their first date. Similarly, sharing a passionate kiss with a masked, anonymous stranger is treated as business as usual for Ashley.

These elements, combined with profanity, spoil what could have been a much sweeter film. A few strategic edits would have easily moved this film into the PG category. Alas, it seems clear that Hollywood believes teens have little interest in films that are "only" rated PG. Thus, a bit of not-so-nice spice is almost always added to try to draw them in. (As if Lindsay's presence alone weren't enough).

Next, Just My Luck offers a great example of why a grain of salt should always be applied when reading why the MPAA decided upon a particular rating. This film earned its rating for "some brief sexual references." Apparently the presence of four s-words isn't enough to merit a language warning.

Neither is the film's romanticization of the occult.

The easy-breezy presence of a fortune teller using Tarot cards to predict—accurately—Ashley's future is troubling because of the worldview it evokes. Tarot cards, crystal balls, fortune telling, astrology and horoscopes are fun and cool, coos Just My Luck. And if its audience of teen and preteen girls see enough of this kind of cool over the years, and it's unchallenged, they're going to inevitably conclude that it's the truth.

Ashley and her friends seem to be looking for some invisible key to figuring out what makes life tick. What makes things seem fair or unfair. Lucky or unlucky. And it's in that primed spiritual context that the scriptwriters make no mention of God—well, none that aren't profane, anyway. What role the God of the universe might want to play in these young women's lives simply isn't a question the film remotely acknowledges. That's not unlucky. That's unjust.

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