Title: Lottery Ticket
Directed by: Erik White
Starring: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Mike Epps, Bill Bellamy and Loretta Devine
Hoping to cash in on the gold mine of Tyler Perry’s multiple hit movies over the past five years, including ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman,’ ‘Why Did I Get Married?’ and ‘Madea Goes to Jail,’ Alcon Entertainment tried to mimic the actor-writer-director’s successful scripts with its new comedy ‘Lottery Ticket.’ Directed by Erik White and based on a screenplay by Abdul Williams, ‘Lottery Ticket’ features a predominately all-black, all-star cast, featuring a down-on-his-luck main character who fights his way to financial and romantic luck. ‘Lottery Ticket’ was also shot in Atlanta, the location where Perry films most of his movies, but the basic similarities unfortunately end there.
While Williams tried to write a funny movie that everyone could relate to, he didn’t succeed, as the characters and plot both lacked any depth. The basis of the entire plot of ‘Lottery Ticket’ was basically shown in the theatrical trailers Alcon put together. The film follows Kevin Carson (played by rapper Bow Wow), who lives an apartment in the projects with his grandmother (played by Loretta Devine). Kevin just graduated from high school, and dreams of going to design school so that one day he can start a shoe company. But not having much money, Kevin instead has to forgo his dream to work at a Foot Locker, where his highest aspiration is to become an assistant manager.
But Kevin’s luck changes over the Fourth of July weekend when he wins $370 million in the nationwide lottery. He tries to get his grandmother and his best friend Benny (portrayed by Brandon T. Jackson) to keep his win a secret until he can cash it on July 5, but the secret still gets out. While everyone in his apartment complex is suddenly nice to him so they can get a piece of his new-found wealth, thug Lorenzo (played by Gbenga Akinnagbe) is out to get Kevin for not giving him free sneakers at Foot Locker.
While Kevin eventually decides to donate some of his money to clean up his apartment complex and give back to his community, overall, the characters don’t have any real redeeming qualities. With not much information given about any of the characters, most of the actors fail to debunk the stereotypes given to blacks who live in run-down communities. Except for Kevin, who dreamt of starting his own company before and after he won the lottery, most of the characters in ‘Lottery Ticket’ seem to lack ambition. Many just seem to want to party, and don’t have any goals for themselves.
The only likeable character who undergoes any significant and noteworthy transformation throughout ‘Lottery Ticket’ is Mr. Washington (portrayed by Ice Cube), even though it was only a minor role. In the beginning of the movie, he asks Kevin to get him things he needs through his window, as he is afraid to leave his apartment. But by the end, as Kevin starts to get to know him better, Mr. Washington lets his guard down and enters the community again. While known for starring in comedic roles, Ice Cube was able to convincingly convey Mr. Washington’s more serious past.
Fans of the numerous well-known stars in ‘Lottery Ticket,’ including Bill Bellamy and Mike Epps in cameo appearances, may like the movie for last minute summer laughs. But the film, which was rated PG-13 for sexual content, language including a drug reference, some violence and brief underage drinking, only proves that as long as a studio throws in a couple of well-liked actors in a movie, it thinks it can get away with an underdeveloped plot line and shallow, stereotypical characters.
Like many other movies that have been released around Labor Day weekend in the past, ‘Lottery Ticket’s number will surely be up soon. The movie seems destined to make only a minimal amount of money during an almost guaranteed limited theatrical release, before kids forget about it and head back to school.
Written by: Karen Benardello