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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this urban comedy deals with materialism, greed, crime, and community in the inner city. There's more violence than you might expect in a comedy, including guns, references to torture and prison rape, and several hand-to-hand fights. The relationship between sex and money and the concept of becoming a "baby mama" to ensure "getting paid" is explored, and there are a couple of interrupted not-quite-sex scenes that show a shirtless guy and a lingerie-clad young woman. But despite the violence, the notable consumerism (the movie is almost like one long commercial for Nike Air Jordans), and the regular use of strong language ("s--t" and "ass" being the most frequent), the overall message is positive: that people with means should give back to their communities.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The Fourth of July weekend after graduating from high school, Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) is biding his time working at Foot Locker, buying Nike sneakers, and hanging out with his best friends, Benny (Brandon T. Jackson) and Stacie (Naturi Naughton). Kevin's grandma (Loretta Devine) asks him to play her numbers in the Mega Millions jackpot, so he spends an extra buck on a ticket for himself ... which turns out to be worth $370 million. Kevin begs his grandma to keep the jackpot a secret until he can claim the big prize in three days, but after she lets it slip to the neighborhood gossip (Charlie Murphy), everyone finds out -- including an ex-con (Gbenga Akinnagbe), a gold-digging beauty on the prowl (Teairra Mari), and Grandma's greedy preacher (Mike Epps). If he can weather the long weekend without getting killed or robbed, Kevin could be one very rich 18-year-old.
Is it any good?
Produced by Ice Cube -- who also plays the hermit of the projects, Mr. Washington -- this comedy will make you laugh. But most of the laughter will be accompanied by eye-rolling, since much of the movie's humor is based on stereotypes -- i.e. poking fun at the flamboyant preacher, the sneaker-obsessed criminals, the gorgeous baby mama looking for the next celebrity to seduce. Kevin is talented (he hopes to start a sneaker-design company) but not ambitious. And it never once occurs to him to let the media know that he has the winning ticket. With just one call to reporters, he would've saved himself three days of grief -- and pain. Instead, he seeks counsel from an "entourage" that encourages him to take out a huge six-figure loan from Sweet Tee (Keith David), the self-styled "Godfather of the Projects." With cash in hand, Kevin goes on a ridiculous spending spree, ignoring Stacie, his practical and smart friend, in order to take the neighborhood social climber on a date. Even a child could see who Kevin will end up with in the end.
Although LOTTERY TICKET's plot is predictable, some of the performances are entertaining enough. David, with his buttery voice and stately manner, could say the lamest line and infuse it with class -- he's just that good. Jackson, an adept comedian, is well cast as the best friend, as is Devine as the overjoyed, devout Grandma and Murphy as the bug-eyed gossip. The scene-stealer, however, is Akinnagbe -- who fans of The Wire will recognize as assassin Chris Partlow. His menacing looks -- and the way he says "squeeze" -- may make you shiver in disgust and fright. Still, a few decent performances can't raise this comedy to the level of Cube's signature Barbershop.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the stereotypes in the movie. What are they based on? Do you think it's appropriate to play up stereotypes for humor?
What lessons do the characters learn about money and community?
How is teenage sexuality handled in the movie? Why does Nikki not want to use protection?
The movie deals with consumerism and materialism constantly. What does the movie think people need more -- things or opportunities?
- In theaters: August 20, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: November 16, 2010
- Cast: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Ice Cube, Naturi Naughton
- Director: Erik White
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, language including a drug reference, some violence and brief underage drinking