The less said about “Lottery Ticket,” the better. The odds of you laughing at this weak and obvious comedy are about the same as winning the lottery.
Bow Wow (the rapper formerly known as Li’l Bow Wow) plays Kevin, a Foot Locker shoe-salesman who lives in an Atlanta housing project with his grandmother (Loretta Devine). On the Friday of July 4 weekend, his life seems to fall apart because of a local thug named Lorenzo (Gbenga Akinnagbe).
Lorenzo wants Kevin to let him and his posse walk out of Foot Locker with three pairs each of the new Jordans without paying, which would cost Kevin his job. When they show up at the mall, however, Kevin refuses – so they walk out with them anyway and are arrested when anti-shoplifting devices are set off. Lorenzo claims Kevin gave him the shoes; when Kevin denies it, the police take Lorenzo away, sputtering threats of revenge.
But Kevin loses his job anyway and goes home despondent, stopping long enough to buy a lottery ticket for his grandmother and, as an afterthought, one for himself. The jackpot is $370 million and you can probably guess the rest.
Yes, Kevin wins – then discovers that the state lottery office is closed until Tuesday because of the holiday. He tells his grandmother and his best friend Brian (Brandon T. Jackson) and swears them to secrecy – but his grandmother blabs and pretty soon the whole project is on Kevin’s back, asking for money.
The formula is similar to that of films such as “Friday” and its sequels: loud voices, outrageous humor (but no real wit), lots of slapstick and a heavy dose of moralizing, in this case about the morality of unwanted pregnancy and the need for anyone from the projects who strikes it rich to “give something back.”
But the script is too haphazard to create any tension or momentum. The writing is relatively joke-free, with loud voices and mild vulgarities instead of actual punchlines. Actors as skilled as Keith David, Terry Crews, Devine and the rest are unable to breathe either life or believability into the writing.
As for Bow Wow, he’s likable enough but hardly compelling as a screen presence. Jackson, so funny as rapper Alpa Chino in “Tropic Thunder,” runs his mouth but little of note emerges. Ice Cube, Charlie Murphy and the never-funny Mike Epps round out a cast that is mired in this mess.
“Lottery Ticket” is stale and stupid. But it’s that time of the year at the movies.