Starring: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Loretta Devine, Ice Cube, Gbenga, Keith David, Terry Crews, Charlie Murphy, Teairra Mari, Jason Weaver, Leslie Jones, Vince Green, T-Pain, Bill Bellamy, Mike Epps, and Lil’ Twist.
Directed by: Erik White.
Released: August 20th, 2010.
Lottery Ticket is the story of Kevin Carson (played by Bow Wow), a youngster who works at Foot Locker and lives in the projects, he is forced to play the lotto because his mom gives him some numbers to play, but in the process, his girl ‘friend’ Stacy (Naturi Naughton) gives him a fortune cookie to play as well. The numbers on the fortune cookie turn out to be the winning ones and now, thanks to his idiotic grandmother, Kevin has to deal with his nosy ghetto neighbors who will do anything from be his friend to kick his arse for the ticket. The only two people he can trust are his best friends (played by Brandon T. Jackson and Naturi Naughton) and an elderly ex-boxer (played by Ice Cube – of course, Ice Cube has to be in every urban-marketed film, right?).
Unfortunately, Kevin can’t claim the ticket because it’s the 4th of July weekend so now he must wait four days in order to do so. Anyway, the film opens with a news report about the $370 million nationwide Mono-Millions jackpot, showing us interviews with various people and asking what they would do with it. Okay, good way to open a movie with this premise. So this movie takes place in the ghetto yet everything looks pretty clean, including the inside of everyone’s apartments. I’m not saying all homes in the ghetto are dirty, but a good number of them are (and that’s not a personal judgement, that’s a fact), they’re not even a little nitty-gritty here. Kevin’s home looks like he’s living in the suburbs.
At the start of the film, we follow Kevin as he meets up with his two friends and wastes lots of screen-time doing nonsense on his way to work. He takes forever to get to work. At first I thought I was going crazy until he finally shows up and his boss informs him that he was nearly 15 minutes late. Lorenzo, an ex-con who’s fresh out of prison, and his boys act as Kevin’s nemesis throughout the film. Lorenzo goes as far as getting Kevin fired after trying to con him into giving away free shoes. This is all fine but the film has serious problems.
Now, Lottery Ticket isn’t entirely a bad film, it has some good things about it but it’s trying too much to be like the typical Tyler Perry pre-cooked African-American film which is so tiring. There was a time when serious and well-executed African-American films were made like Malcolm X, New Jack City, and Boyz in Da Hood for instance, but nowadays it’s mostly Tyler Perry-ish crap. We’ve got Loretta Devine here who’s a great actress but she’s always getting typecast as the mother figure (same with Angela Bassett), there’s another ridiculous church scene with an over-the-top goofy preacher who is wearing an obviously fake hair piece, and the list goes on.
If Lottery Ticket was written and filmed as a nitty-gritty drama on the level of, say, Boyz in Da Hood then it would have fared much, much better than as a stupid Tyler Perry-minded comedy. There’s some bits of drama sprinkled throughout the film, just nothing but scenes with drama that actually work and make you forget what kind of movie you’re watching. Kevin is a great character with a unique interest in shoe design, he also has good chemistry between his two friends, then there’s a chase scene between Kevin and Lorenzo that feels like it’s right out of an action movie. Even Ice Cube plays a great character here. But none of that matters because this was written as a comedy so it all looks crooked.
The characters are not that smart either. Kevin’s grandma is a moron who can’t keep her mouth shut about winning the lottery, and even Kevin himself picks the worst time possible to tell his best buddy the good news (while he’s on a bus full of people). Not only that, if you can’t claim that ticket for four days, then call up 911 and ask for protection. You’ve won the lottery, you have every right to call 911 for protection in this kind of a scenario where he has to wait a few days. Have the police escort you to a temporary place of their discretion to stay at until you can go and claim the ticket. That would avoid having to deal with people like Lorenzo.
But I guess the writers were too lazy – Hey, I got an idea, there hasn’t been a ghetto movie about winning the lotto, so we should do that next! Then they slapped the dumbest things together and called it a movie. I mean even the designer of the poster was lazy – it looks just like the poster for Barbershop with a bunch of morons standing in front of a store except the store has no name on it here.