Lucky Numbers



Not a great movie, and definitely not for kids.
  • Review Date: May 5, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Comic violence, including murder.


Sexual references and situations, scenes in topless bar, adultery.


Frequent strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, smoking, drug use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has very strong language, nudity, sexual references and situations, assault, murder, shooting, drinking, smoking, and drug use, in addition to the overall theme of larceny and fraud. Some characters are punished, but some are not.

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What's the story?

John Travolta plays Russ Richards, a popular local figure with a permanent parking space and roped-off table at his favorite local bistro, Denny's. He has ambitiously but unwisely invested in a snowmobile franchise. Despite his professional expertise, he did not anticipate that Harrisburg's uncharacteristically balmy winter would leave him on the brink of bankruptcy. He consults his friend, Gig (Tim Roth), who owns a strip joint. Gig arranges a robbery of the snowmobile showroom, but that goes wrong. So he suggests to Russ that perhaps Russ's girlfriend Crystal (Lisa Kudrow), who goes on camera in a ball gown each week to select the winning lottery numbers, might just be persuaded to help make sure that the numbers she picks are the ones they pick.

Is it any good?


Director Nora Ephron, best known for writing and directing sparkly romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle, goes for a darker kind of comedy in LUCKY NUMBERS. She gets terrific performances from a first-rate cast, especially Bill Pullman as a lazy police officer. Russ and Crystal behave like people who know for sure that they were meant to be rich, and are getting increasingly annoyed that somehow the message never got across.

But Ephron is a long way from the Coen brothers. She has some sharp insights about the ambitions and strategies of her characters and there are some very funny moments, a sort of "Maltese Falcon" on acid, but ultimately it does not work.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why the money is important to the characters and how they calculate their risks. Movies about crime are always in some sense movies about problem-solving, and it is worth pointing out the way that the characters respond to the initial challenge of figuring out a way to sabotage the lottery and to the subsequent problems that they did not anticipate. Families may also want to talk about why people do and do not obey the law and what the consequences are for themselves and society if they don't.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 27, 2000
DVD release date:March 20, 2001
Cast:Bill Pullman, John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow
Director:Nora Ephron
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, sexuality, some drug use and brief violence

This review of Lucky Numbers was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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