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dog days

dog days

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lucky


Lucky
2004
Steve Cudden

Millard Mudd is an alcoholic scriptwriter for cartoon shows. He’s lonely, depressed, and his career is going nowhere. One night he ventures out from his (literally) beer can filled home to get some more booze when he runs over a small dog. The dog's tag says ‘Lucky’. He takes Lucky home, sews its guts back in, and despite the fact that it isn’t moving or breathing he keeps it as a friend. Finally realizing that maybe his new pal isn’t doing so well, he buries it, only to have Lucky pop out of the grave and speak to Millard telepathically. Lucky is here to help Millard’s career as a writer, and the dog only has one request. Millard has to start giving in to his murderous urges.

The face of evil.
Lucky is a black comedy at heart. It does tread into some very dark places, including rape, torture, neophilia, and mutilation.  This is a film out to push a few buttons, and since the director and the writer both have worked almost exclusively for animated shows, just like the wayward main character, this movie probably served as a release valve from those pressures. Writing for children’s animation, especially in the 1990s limited the subject matter and how adult a writer could push a story. With that in mind, the extreme elements of this movie begin to make more sense in terms of why they go as far as they do.

The comedy in Lucky mostly stems from the sardonic voice of Millard as he narrates his life. Often the narration serves as crutch for weak writing in films, but here it allows the viewer not only a peek into the mind of an isolated person who’s sanity is crumbling, but also his detachment from his actions. The verbal back and forth between Millard and Lucky are some of the best moments, and it is in these moments that the writing really shines. The transition of Lucky from comic foil to controlling abuser is some great work.

The other face of evil.
Lucky looks extremely low budget, with a dark grainy picture and some very limited location work. Director Cudden makes the most of Millard’s dingy cluttered house. The place feels cramped and disgusting, and it never allows either Millard or the viewer to relax. The small amount of special effects in the film work well, going hand-in-hand with the griminess of the production. Sydney (the dog who played Lucky) isn’t required much to do beyond stare at Millard, but even that can be a challenge for some animal actors. Sydney never gives the appearance of being anything more than a normal dog, which goes well in forcing the viewer to ask what is real and what is Millard’s delusion.

Lucky is very strange film, its angry, silly, morose, and vile. It has just enough absurd humor to keep it from becoming too alienating (well, to a point). There isn’t a very deep plot to be found. Millard is in a bad place when meet him and he’s even worse off by the end. If you feel like watching the slow disintegration of man via  a talking dog, Lucky is the film for you.*

*A Magic Puppy may also be the film for you.

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