Not so Lucky
Seven Times Lucky (Gary Yates). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (March 25). For venues and times, see Movies, page 91. Rating: NN Here's a caper film you can take home to Mom. It includes Christmas-decorating mob bosses, tough guys who recite Dickens, and mild violence that takes place mostly off-screen. Poor Kevin Pollak . The stand-up comedian turned character actor has been saddled with carrying this pic. He plays Harlan, a down-on-his-luck grifter who's gambled his boss's money away on the wrong horse. Now he needs the help of beautiful young protege and sometime lover ( Liane Balaban ) Fiona to somehow win it back.
The movie needs more than luck to work. Gary Yates 's direction screams first feature, from its sitcomesque segues to the predictability of its plot turns. Yates is no M. Night Shayamalan; you can see every twist coming five scenes ahead.
Not that it's all bad. Yates, who's won awards for his shorts, has a good sense of pacing, and aside from the leads, he gets solid performances from the supporting characters, particularly Babs Chula as a slick businesswoman. Potential exists here, but it's not dark enough to be noir.
In the press notes, Pollak says he hasn't felt this way about a film since The Usual Suspects, the movie that launched him. Gee, maybe he's gone back to stand-up.