I have no idea what I’d do if I won the lottery. I suppose I’d share the money with friends and family, buy a few nice things and give some to charity, which is essentially what happens in Lottery Ticket, the new star vehicle for the rapper Bow Wow, but I doubt my experience would be as hackneyed, clichéd and stereotypical. With an amateurish script from first time screenwriter Abdul Williams and bland direction from Erik White, known mostly for his video music work, Lottery Ticket fails to do much other than exist, despite the slight charm and occasional chuckle.
The story revolves around Kevin (Bow Wow), a shoe enthusiast. Scribbled drawings of them line the walls of his room, his closet is all shoe boxes, he works at Foot Locker and, yes, he even irons his shoestrings. On his way to work one day, passing through his crummy Georgia neighborhood strewn with drug dealers, thieves and morons, he runs into his pal Benny (Brandon T. Jackson) and explains to him that his grandmother (Loretta Devine) wants him to buy her a lottery ticket. Before he does, however, he meets with best lady friend and soon-to-be-love-interest Stacie (Naturi Naughton) for lunch, where she urges him to keep the fortune from the post meal cookie. He does and upon arriving at the convenience store, he buys two tickets, one for his grandma and one for him, using the so called “lucky” numbers from his fortune. The next thing he knows, he has won the lottery, which is upwards of $370 million. Unfortunately, the lottery headquarters is closed for the Fourth of July weekend, which means he has to keep his ticket safe for three days, but soon the neighborhood hears of Kevin’s win and he finds himself in more trouble than he expected.
Lottery Ticket is like the unholy marriage of Do the Right Thing and Friday, two vastly superior movies. While this and Friday are similar in their comedic tones (even going so far as to emulate Chris Tucker’s look in that film), it’s akin to Do the Right Thing in its portrayal of racism and stereotypes. The difference, however, is that Spike Lee’s seminal film was a study on how they can affect individuals and society as a whole. Lottery Ticket is just ignorant.
The negative, disrespectful and damaging stereotypes seep out of Lottery Ticket like water through cracks. From the greedy preacher to the gold digging hussy to the plethora of opprobrious observations of African Americans, the film treats its characters more like things than people.
But perhaps most offensive is the generic storyline told with the wit of a first time stand-up comic who mistakes laughter at him for laughter with him. Lottery Ticket floats by nonchalantly, rarely taking notice of its misuse of comedy. Instead of writing jokes, the filmmakers merely insert well known faces in minor roles or as cameos. T-Pain, Bill Bellamy and Charlie Murphy all appear in the film, the latter of which garnered laughs from the audience assumedly because of his work on “Chappelle’s Show” despite not spouting a single funny line here.
It all leads to an appropriately predictable and clumsy conclusion that seems a better fit for a feel good television movie than a big screen event. While the acting is decent—Bow Wow is surprisingly good, though his versatility is still up in the air since he is given little more to do here than shake his head and look rattled—there’s really not much to recommend.
Millions of lottery tickets are sold each week. Only a small percentage of those who buy one will win, but you can bet on this. Play this Lottery Ticket and you’re bound to lose.
Lottery Ticket receives 1.5/5