Just My Luck

May 17, 2006 at 12:00 am

After a successful run of teen and preteen flicks, the raspy-voiced gossip-magnet Lindsay Lohan has decided to start her grown-up movie career with a dopey screwball comedy in which she throws parties for a living, battles suds from an overflowing washing machine and never utters anything more profane than the word "crap." If she keeps picking material like this, she'll be remaking Brady Bunch episodes by the time she's 25.

Just My Luck is one of those cookie-cutter romantic fantasies that stars a gaggle of women in their early 20s, but in terms of wit and sophistication is really aimed at girls who aren't old enough to drive themselves to the mall. It should do for Lohan's career what Uptown Girls and Little Black Book did for Brittany Murphy's (nothing).

Lohan plays public-relations underling Ashley, who strolls through an impossibly clean New York City in a blissful haze of good luck. Whether she's finding a five-spot on the sidewalk or getting asked out by a millionaire's son, she leads a charmed life. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, her polar opposite Jake (Chris Pine) is a small-time promoter who can't stop stepping in dogshit, ripping his pants and getting wrongfully arrested.

Their fates change at a swanky masquerade party where Ashley and Jake share a kiss and — after some magical bells on the sound track — their luck polarities change. This Cinderella-in-reverse tale then requires Ashley to fumble around, breaking mirrors and getting gum in her hair, while she struggles in vain to find her once-nerdy Prince Charming Jake.

Lohan has a knack for physical comedy, and although Pine is improbably too hot for a "loser," he has a believable, stammering charm. They make an appealing couple, but the script — credited to five writers — requires them to stay apart for an inordinate amount of time while we're subjected to countless montages of Ashley falling in mud and embarrassing herself.

Director Donald Petrie (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) is blandly efficient: He keeps the lame jokes coming at a steady pace, and maximizes screen time for as many product placements as possible: everything from the Hard Rock Cafe to the T-Mobile Sidekick to Maytag washing machines. Even McFly, the annoying British boy band Jake manages, is a real group with a half-dozen singles to promote over the course of the film. When Lohan whips out her Capital One credit card for the umpteenth time, you half expect someone to utter the slogan "What's in your wallet?"

Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].