by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Lottery Ticket uses an old formula to tell the story of how poor people hitch their dreams to a set of numbers that they hope will play out in their favor.
This time CubeVision’s Ice Cube assembles a cast of actors for a frolicking long weekend of anticipation as Kevin, played by Bow Wow, and his grandmother, played by Loretta Devine, have to wait until the July 4th weekend is over, before they can cash in on his winnings of $370 million.
Grant it, Kevin never plays the lottery, it’s his Bible-thumping, Jesus-fearing, churchgoing granny who plays and religiously. But her numbers don’t win. After the cat gets out of the bag that Kevin has won, he has to face hell and high water to preserve his safety and sanity, while running from the neighborhood hoodlum and hoochie.
Ice Cube is spot on with the situations played out in the folks living in the projects. They sit around all day and dialogue about world issues, mostly about how broke they are or how drunk they are going to get that day. Kevin works at the local Foot Locker, while owning dozens of pairs of tennis shoes and ironing his shoe laces. His grandmother is spiritual enough, even when she’s dancing around and drinking liquor, all in the praise of God for blessing her life with the jackpot. Naturi Naughton, of Lil’ Kim fame in Notorious and Fame fame in the performing arts movie, plays Stacie, who Kevin doesn’t realize is his soulmate.
Mike Epps plays the preacher with the wig and the red suit, who tries to “speak” to Kevin during Sunday services so he’ll donate to the church and to the reverend’s pocket. Other notables include Keith David, who plays a Godfather-in-the-hood figure, riding around in a Bentley, and Terry Crews, his body guard.
And, of course, Ice Cube directs himself as the reclusive Mr. “Thump” Washington, an old man who once dreamt of a successful boxing career and not just one of a spar partner, and who hasn’t been outside his home in 22 years.
Lottery Ticket is a film that continues the tradition of Ice Cube-directed family comedies. It’s the story of a young man living in the projects who not only finds his way to a better life, but who in the end cares about his community as a whole.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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