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Lottery Ticket (2010)
For the common Lottery, see Lottery. For other uses, see Lottery (disambiguation). Lottery Ticket is a comedy film starring Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Keith David, Charlie Murphy, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Terry Crews, Bill Bellamy, Mike Epps, T-Pain, Loretta Devine and Ice Cube that was released on August 20, 2010. The film takes place over the Fourth of July weekend as Kevin Carson (Bow Wow), tries to avoid losing his lottery ticket worth $375 million. Kevin lives in the Fillmore Projects with his best friend Benny (Brandon T. Jackson), a small-time unemployed hood, his religious grandmother (Loretta Devine), and college-bound Stacie (Naturi Naughton). On his way to Foot Locker, they come across the neighborhood bully Lorenzo (Gbenga Akinnagbe) who tells Kevin to hook him and his boys up with three pairs of new Jordans each. When Lorenzo comes for the shoes later, he is arrested. Kevin refuses to cover for Lorenzo, but is fired anyway. On a whim, Kevin plays numbers he found in a fortune cookie in the $370 million lottery jackpot at Junior's (T-Pain) convenience store, despite the fact he does not believe in the lottery.
Of course, some poor kid from the ghetto -- in this case, a slightly more mature Bow Wow -- winning a huge cash jackpot on a fluke is as old as Brewster's own millions, and to make the prize unobtainable until the end of an extended Fourth of July weekend suggests lots of manipulative misunderstandings and misadventures. But every time something threatens to step up and make us laugh, White and Williams bury it in a cloud of noble intentions that intentionally stifle the snickers. The results are the movie equivalent of slow torture.
For high school graduate Kevin Carson, college is out of the question. It is just too expensive and he has to help his God-fearing grandmother (Loretta Devine) make ends meet. So he heads out to his job at the Foot Locker every morning, meeting up with pals Benny (Brandon T. Jackson) and Stacie (Naturi Naughton) along the way. He also runs into the projects' local gossip Semaj (Charles Murphy), neighborhood recluse Mr. Washington (Ice Cube), slippery wannabe baby mamas, members of his fly by night "entourage," and mean gangster thug Lorenzo (Gbenga Akinnagbe).
On a whim, Kevin decides to play the lotto using numbers from the back of a Chinese fortune cookie message. Before he knows it, our hero is holding a ticket worth millions. One inability to keep a secret later and everyone in the area wants to be his friend, and local influences like shady businessman Sweet Tea (Keith David) and equally corrupt preacher Reverend Taylor (Mike Epps) want a piece of his winnings. Far more alarmingly, Lorenzo wants the loot all for himself and will do anything to Kevin to get it. As the long Independence Day weekend drags on, our hero will have to fend off his new "friends" as well as try to find a way to stay safe.
Lottery Ticket is a movie that can't make up its mind what it wants to be. On the one hand, it hints at a full-on screwball comedy, It's like a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World relocated to the inner city. It certainly has the larger than life characters and unrealistic plot twists. Then there is the coming of age conceit between Kevin, Benny, and Stacie. Having known each other all through school, they provide support and common sense where chaos reigns. Then there's the hip-hop mantra of "more money, more problems" that demands to be explored. As he learns the ways of fast cash, our hero must also understand its superficial pleasures. Toss in the "give back" motif, the ex-boxer looking for redemption, the cliched crocked preacher, and the numerous other hate crimes posing as supporting players, and you've got cinema that's unsatisfying on several levels.
But the biggest sin committed by Lottery Ticket is that it's just not funny. Carrot Top's current stand-up routine contains more sustained laughs. Even the actors seem to struggle to crack a smile. We don't expect Richard Pryor levels of humor here, but would a low rent Dolemite approach to laughter have hurt? Perhaps something remotely clever or creative would have helped also. Instead, Lottery Ticket goes through the motions before wearing out its welcome. There are no winners, no matter the odds, in this hopeless disaster.