Nicholas Sparks is known far and wide for basically taking the same book and re-working it so he can squeeze another Channing Tatum vehicle out of it. Knowing this, my good friends Michelle Tully and Tom Censani, came up with a play on The Lucky One called The Lucky Picture. I have taken several liberties with their plot as it was originally only 4 drunken sentences I wrote on my iPhone in the bar.
The film stars Chris Pine as a down on his luck surgeon named Max. Patient after patient has died on his watch and he is having what surgeons call “bad luck”. He considers at one point giving up his profession, his life, and moving back from the big city to the midwest to open up a small-town practice. One night while out with his friends and few too many drinks, he takes a cab home and in the backseat there is a random polaroid headshot of a woman. The photo is of Isla Fisher. He speaks to the photo and says something lame like “I bet she’s having better luck than me…wherever she is…”
We cut to the morning at Max’ loft and he’s asleep on his monstrosity of a bed. His alarm goes off and he comically shuts it off. The camera follows Max from behind to the bathroom and when he looks in the mirror, we see Isla Fishers smiling photo is stuck to his face. He throws it off and says something comical to allude to the fact that he may have masturbated to the photo last night but actually didn’t. He shows up to the hospital where his buddy played by Greg Grunberg, tells him that he’s needed in the OR stat! Max isn’t ready to go back into surgery, but he goes to his locker to change into his scrubs and as he’s getting his surgical mask, right on top of the mask is that photo again. Instead of freaking out, he tosses it aside again and gets to work on the patient. A lot of medical jargon is thrown back and forth and even though this is a serious surgery on a small boy, there is not a lot of blood cause this is a rom-com. The surgery is a success and the chief of surgery played by Anthony Michael Hall, says that no one could have done that surgery successfully. It was a miracle. Max goes back to his locker and that photo is inexplicably back in his locker, and instead of tossing it aside again, he says that something about this photo is giving him good luck. As he folds it and puts it into his pocket, James Brown’s “I Feel Good” plays and we cut to a montage of really cool things happening to Max. He saves like a billion more patients, pretty women start coming up to him in bars/clubs, and starts driving a really nice new car, that is definitely product placement. The next 20 mins of the film, his luck couldn’t be better, and he soon becomes a resident doctor guest on an Oprah-like tv show.
After this we cut to Isla Fisher’s character, a dancer named Lily in the Los Angeles Ballet (is that even a real thing?) watching television in a hospital thinking outloud “That guy must really have it easy” We see the same nurse from an earlier surgery is prepping Lily for surgery. She’s sassy and played by Wanda Sykes, and says something to Lily along the lines of how lucky she is, to have Max Dalton performing her knee surgery.
As Max comes in in the next scene with sunglasses on, ready to rock the surgery, he’s taken aback by how gorgeous Lily is. The music gets super poignant for a bit, before shifting into that high-intensity surgery music, and several hours later the surgery is successful. Lily thanks Max and Max, oddly drawn to her realizes that she’s the same person as the one in the photograph. He asks her out for a drink. She accepts and they have a really nice time and he asks her out again. They begin going on several dates, and while Max and Lily have great chemistry and he even starts helping her rehab so she can start dancing again. While all of this is happening, Max’ luck in every other area of his life begins to go south and he inexplicably realizes that it is because he’s met Lily that his luck has changed for the worse. Surgeries aren’t successful, his really nice car breaks down etc. One night at dinner he levels with her and tells her that one night he found a picture of her and since then he’s had great luck and been very successful. However, once he met the real her, as much as he loves her, his luck is only getting worse. He breaks up with her. He feels horrible about it, but he does it anyway. Only this time, even though he has her picture still, his luck doesn’t get better.
Months pass. That nurse from earlier comes back and tells him that Lily is performing at the Staples Center at some important ballet show. Sykes character says some really deep stuff about “sometimes loving someone means admitting you’re a dumb-ass”. We cut to Max on a date with a comedically stupid woman who says a bunch of comedically stupid things, and we see Max look down at the folded picture of Lily. He gets up right in the middle of their dinner and says, ” I completely forgot there is somewhere I’m supposed to be” he runs out of the restaurant and gets into his car. It breaks down again. He gets into a cab, and there’s standstill traffic. He gets out of the cab and runs 20 blocks to the Staples Center, doesn’t have a ticket, barges thru anyway and right as Lily is about to make her return to dance he screams “wait!” All of the haughty ballet watchers turn around and then Max has his big apology scene. People are booing at first because he stopped the show, but as he pours his heart out and apologizes, she eventually lowers her defenses, and Lily asks him “but what about your luck?” and he says something cheesy like “I don’t need luck, because I have love. and sometimes love means admitting your a dumb-ass” (that doesn’t make sense, but it makes everyone in the Staples Center clap and he runs up to the stage to embrace her. They hug and kiss, and she says stops him because he still has a show to put on.
Months pass again and we see they now live together in a cabin in the midwest. He’s opened a small practice, and she’s teaching ballet at the local high school (that has a ballet program). Max comes to pick Lily up from work and her students say she must have all the luck. She says, I really don’t. I have all the love. He takes her out of the classroom and they spin around and kiss and it’s over.
For more shitburgers like this, come to the The Creek and the Cave every 3rd Thursday of the month at 9:30pm for Pig Pile. Our monthly standup/improv variety show, where Priest and the Beekeeper produces turds all too similar to this one.
Love that bad luck means his car breaking down and unsuccessful surgeries. Because they are both on the same ‘aw shucks’ level
“sometimes loving someone means admitting you’re a dumb-ass” no truer more Nicholas Sparksy line has ever been written by someone who is not Sparks. Love it. Teaching ballet at the local high school is such a perfect ending to a Sparks movie as well. Perfect!