Home > Reviews > LUCKY YOU – Christopher Young

LUCKY YOU – Christopher Young

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In addition to his horror and thriller scores, for some reason, Christopher Young often gets hired to score films about playing cards, or which are set in Las Vegas: titles like Shade, Rounders, and The Big Kahuna, for example. Lucky You, the latest film from director Curtis Hanson, is both about playing cards AND set in Las Vegas, so it’s almost inevitable that Young would end up scoring it!

The film stars Eric Bana as hotshot poker player Huck Cheever, who arrives in Nevada to play in a major tournament. However, Huck has personal demons – recklessness, compulsiveness, and a long-term rivalry with his poker-playing father (Robert Duvall). Just as Huck seems to be fighting a losing his battle, waitress Billie (Drew Barrymore) enters his life, who inspires him to turn things around and set him on the road to both personal and professional recovery.

Much like those earlier Vegas scores, Lucky You has a definite jazz/rock vibe, pitting the orchestra against a bank of electric and acoustic guitars, pianos, Hammond organs, synths, and a nifty-sounding jazz combo trio, in a variety of upbeat tempos ranging from vaguely Latino or Hawaiian, to country-western.

It’s always surprised me just how good Young is at writing this kind of authentic-sounding jazz, especially when his forte is often considered to be avant-garde orchestral horror writing, and it’s always pleasing to hear his work when he revisits this genre. The opening cue, “Lucky You”, has the right level of optimism and urbane cool, and some of the more intimate moments (“Everybody Has a Blind Spot”, “Billie’s Blues”, “It Pays To Be Prudent”) have an enticing, lonesome-sounding soft-rock attitude, like the reflective underbelly of the modern American midwest.

Other cues worth noting include the vocally-inflected “Runner-Runner”, the vaguely grungy “The Blaster”, the unexpected mandolin element in “A Pigeon With Pocket Rockets”, the gospel-inspired “Are You Slumming?”, the magnificently-named “Stewed Prunes and a Toothpick”, and the more downbeat piano element in “A Good Win, A Bad Win”.

Although Lucky You had only 26 minutes of score in the final cut of the film, Young wrote nearly 2½ hours of additional demoed themes and cues that never made it into the final film; this 2-CD promo contains the vast majority of the music that Young wrote, and provides a hugely enjoying overview of his work. The score was originally due to be released as a regular CD by Varese Sarabande, but it was cancelled at the last minute for reasons which remain unclear, leaving this release as the only place to hear Young’s work.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Lucky You (3:36)
  • Everybody Has a Blind Spot (3:19)
  • King In The Whole (4:26)
  • Ode to Chico Banh (3:33)
  • Billie’s Blues (1:37)
  • Trying Too Hard With No 8’s (3:28)
  • Sometimes Nothing Is Enough (3:57)
  • Runner-Runner (3:28)
  • My Ignorant End (1:13)
  • Better Not Jacks (0:50)
  • Johnny Railbird (2:43)
  • It Pays To Be Prudent (1:42)
  • The Blaster (3:45)
  • Goin’ Down With the Green (1:22)
  • Living on Wild Cards (3:10)
  • 16 A Dead Man’s Hand (3:35)
  • The Big Bobtail (2:46)
  • A Pigeon With Pocket Rockets (2:18)
  • Burnt Cards (3:00)
  • Are You Slumming? (2:47)
  • A Tell (1:10)
  • Mites and Lice (2:47)
  • Therapy With a Deck of Cards (3:22)
  • Nubian Slaves (2:22)
  • Stewed Prunes and a Toothpick (2:49)
  • A Good Win, A Bad Win (1:35)
  • Bad Beat (3:43)
  • Four Strikes and You’re Out (1:53)
  • Telephone Jack (2:45)
  • Rewarded For Lying (1:57)
  • Left Pocket Money (3:57)
  • Return to the Rat Hole (1:41)
  • Lucky Me (3:38)

Running Time: 91 minutes 36 seconds

Promo (2007)

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