Lucky Numbers

Director:Nora Ephron
Writer:Adam Resnick
Paramount Pictures; 100 minutes; R
Cast:John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow, Tim Roth

Lucky Numbers is an unpleasant little comedy about wretched little people. Director Nora Ephron—responsible for giving John Travolta wings in Michael—casts him as a small town weatherman desperate for a fast buck. His sleazy buddy Gig (Tim Roth) convinces Russ (Travolta) to embark on a series of harebrained criminal schemes. The weatherman's luck plummets from bad to much, much worse. These are the type of thugs moviegoers have long been acquainted with: generally incompetent, morally lacking, occasionally vicious ne'er-do-wells. The kind of people for whom disaster and double-crossings are commonplace.

Hungry for a jackpot, Russ persuades his untrustworthy girlfriend (Lisa Kudrow) to help fix the Pennsylvania state lottery. A Simple Plan, Fargo, even the recent Way of the Gun managed to create violent backwoods worlds whose elements of character, comedy, or plot made them worth watching. Not so with Ephron's latest outing.