SpotlightVegas on TV

Behind the camera: Lucky You

Film: Lucky You (Drama, 2007, Rated PG-13)

Airdate (PST): Feb. 23 @ 12:50 p.m. on HBOSG

Plot: Aspiring Vegas lounge warbler (Drew Barrymore) meets poker stud (Eric Bana) with a problematic relationship with his World Series of Poker-winning papa (Robert Duvall).

Top-billed cast:  Barrymore, Bana, Duvall, and co-starring Debra Messing and Robert Downey Jr.

Soundtrack artists: Bruce Springsteen, George Jones, Liza Minnelli, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Drew Barrymore.

Vegas filming locations: Dino’s Lounge; the Bellagio fountains; Binion’s Horseshoe; the Jockey Club; Summerlin’s Bear’s Best Golf Club; Tiffany’s Cafe inside the White Cross Drugs store; the then-under-construction Cosmopolitan; Silverton’s Casino Lodge.

Real poker players featured include: Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein, Ted Forrest, Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan, Hoyt Corkins, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Dan Harrington, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Erik Seidel.

Tales from the production:

  • Bana and Duvall were coached for months on how to play like professionals by poker consultant/pro player Doyle Brunson.
  • Filming took place for nine days in the Dino’s Lounge parking lot — but the lounge interior was built on a soundstage in Los Angeles.
  • At the Silverton, Messing spent 16 hours filming while dressed as a mermaid inside the lodge’s 117,000-gallon aquatic tank — for a scene that was cut from the film.
  • The person playing against Bana’s character of Huck Cheever is Jennifer Harman, the only woman to hold two bracelets in the World Series of Poker open events.
  • The name Huck Cheever is a nod to Huck Seed, winner of the 1996 World Series of Poker main event.

Filming Boo-Boos:

  • The movie is set in 2003 and includes a shot of the roof line of the Wynn Las Vegas — which wasn’t completed until 2005.
  • In the scene of the main poker event, when a son intentionally flubs his hand to enable his dad to win, he’s committing a serious violation of poker rules.
  • During a game, one player “calls” another, then reveals his own hand, but the person he calls does not. This is backwards, as the called person has to reveal his hand, while the caller only has to reveal his own if it’s a winning hand.

Quotes:

    • “You play cards the way you lead your life. And you lead your life the way you should play cards.”
    • “You’re not going to be happy until you have nothing left.”
    • “Do you mind if I get my fortune cookie first? I like to think about it during the meal.”
    • “I’m not a bank. You can’t make deposits and withdrawals whenever you feel like it.”
    • “Giving and receiving are more complicated than winning and losing.”
    • “He who thinks too much is thinking too much.”

Reviews:

    • “A relaxed-looking expert piece that immerses us in another world.” (Chicago Tribune)
    • “A well-acted character piece.” (TV Guide)
    • “At its best it’s refreshingly offhanded.” (Christian Science Monitor)
    • “Even if you think you know where Lucky You is headed, there’s something pleasurable about watching it unfold.” (Salon)
    • “Starts off promisingly, then grows as lifeless as a poker face.” (USA Today)
    • “A solid, well-made, generally gripping and intelligent movie — and how many of those have lately been made in America?” (Time)

 

— Compiled from online sources

 

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