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Studio Home Entertainment presents
Luckytown (2000)

"Why don't you find yourself some more winners, Tony. Playing me is not good for your health."
- Charlie Doyles (James Caan)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 20, 2001

Stars: James Caan, Vincent Kartheiser, Kirsten Dunst
Other Stars: Luis Guzman, Robert Miano, Theresa Russell, Jennifer Gareis
Director: Paul Nicholas

Manufacturer: Technicolor
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexuality/nudity, language, drug use
Run Time: 01h:41m:20s
Release Date: July 17, 2001
UPC: 658149783829
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C+B+A- D

DVD Review

Despite appearing in some 70 commercials as a child, and parts in a string of hit movies, including Interview With The Vampire, Jumanji, Little Women and Small Soldiers earlier in her career, Kirsten Dunst established herself as a major player in 2000 with roles in Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, Dick and Bring It On. James Caan on the other hand, has been an attraction for decades, coming to the forefront as Sonny Corleone in the Godfather trilogy, then taking star billing in films like Rollerball, Comes A Horseman, Thief and Misery. As the first film he has directed without writing credits, Paul Nicholasófamous for women's prison flicks Caged Heat and The Naked Cageóhelms this story set in the gambling meccha of Las Vegas.

After her mother (cameod by Theresa Russell) forgets her eighteenth birthday, Lidda Doyles (Kirsten Dunst) decides to hunt down her long missing father, who has sent her a $2000 cheque for a present. She stops before leaving town at a local video rental outlet, where high school classmate Colonel (Vincent Kartheiser —Indian In The Cupboard) is holding down the fort. Striking up conversation with him for the first time, she asks if he will accompany her to Las Vegas, where she hopes to locate her father (James Caan), a professional gambler. When a thug shows up demanding Colonel settle a debt at gunpoint, Lidda offers up her travelling money to cover the expense, a shootout ensues, with Lidda and Colonel taking to the road together. Though the two don't exactly hit it off, they wind up in Vegas, and after Lidda is almost mugged, she asks Colonel to hold on to the rest of her money for herónot such a good idea as he is also a gambler, though he does manage to beat his first opponent, who happens to be Lidda's father, Charlie, back in town after an extended trip to Atlantic City. After losing all her money at the roulette wheel, Colonel suppresses the whereabouts of Charlie, leaving Lidda to continue her search, despite their own relationship heating up.

Charlie is not without rival in Vegas, as the owner of a strip club, Tony DeCarlo (Robert Miano) is none too happy with Charlie's return, primarily due to his girlfriend (Jennifer Gareis) being Charlie's ex-lover. Tony is also a poker player, though he has set up a racket whereby anyone who beats him ends up buried in the desert, freed of any winnings by his henchman Jimmy (Luis Guzm·n). With a grudge match set between the two men with $300,000 at stake, will Lidda find her father before Tony can exact his revenge?

Luckytown (AKA Luckytown Blues) is your average gambling flick, with decent enough performances, but a pretty standard and predictable script. Dunst and Caan cover their roles well enough, but neither is really given a lot to work with. Robert Miano's Tony is a fairly annoying character, and Luis Guzm·n assumes a typical part as his stooge. The plot is kept moving along, things get somewhat complicated, deception is rampant, but nothing all that groundbreaking ends up happening. While I can understand Caan taking this role, how Dunst ended up with this as a followup to The Virgin Suicides is a mystery. Leave out the drug use and Jennifer Gareis' nude scene and you have a good made-for-TV movie. Rates in the "whatever" category for recommendations.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in nonanamorphic widescreen, there is little to fault in the transfer outside the lower resolution and aliasing inherent from lack of an anamorphic transfer. Colors are vibrant, black levels solid, grain is not distracting. Detail is good as are contrast settings. Print defects are negligible. A solid presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio is well presented, with easily understood dialogue, and no inherent defects other than a touch of distortion in places. Directionality is appropriate, and the soundstage doesn't feel cluttered. No major complaints.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Spanish Judges, A Texas Funeral, The Million Dollar Hotel
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Unfortunately, you won't be getting too lucky in the way of extras. A full-frame trailer for Luckytown is available from the main menu, with trailers for Spanish Judges, A Texas Funeral and The Million Dollar Hotel hidden in the Studio Home Entertainment logo.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Unless you are a Kirsten Dunst or James Caan completist you can probably be safe passing this one by. The film is involving enough, with nothing really terribly wrong other than a stock script and shallow characterizations. Neither good nor bad, Luckytown gets a passing grade, but not a recommendation.


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