Slapstick skirmish with a sweet message

"Lottery Ticket" stars (from left) Keith David as Sweet Tee; Bow Wow as Kevin Carson, who wins (and loses); Gbenga Akinnagbe as Lorenzo.
"Lottery Ticket" stars (from left) Keith David as Sweet Tee; Bow Wow as Kevin Carson, who wins (and loses); Gbenga Akinnagbe as Lorenzo.
Posted: August 20, 2010

In the buoyant urban fantasy Lottery Ticket, Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) is 18, lives with his grandma in the projects, and works at Foot Locker. He hopes one day to design sneakers.

As the July Fourth weekend looms, lottery fever sweeps through the community. The jackpot has climbed to $370 million. His friends and neighbors are banking on the bank they are certain to win. Kevin? He tells his best friend, Benny (Brandon T. Jackson), that the lottery is a scheme "to keep poor people poor by selling them false dreams."

But when he buys a Mondo Millions ticket for Grandma (Loretta Devine), playing the numbers that came to her in a dream, Kevin impulsively plunks down a dollar for himself as well, playing the numbers that came in his fortune cookie.

When he wins the Lotto, Kevin loses nearly everything - friends, family, community - as everyone from the local ganglord to his pastor tries to get his fingers on the winning ticket. Kevin can't redeem it because it's a holiday weekend.

In the cartoonish film directed by Erik White from a screenplay by Abdul Williams, what ensues is a slapstick skirmish between temptation and caution with Kevin's soul as the battleground. Everybody wants a piece of him. The prospect of money makes everybody silly. Who can he trust?

Not the gang lord (Keith David) who advances him a bundle - with strings attached. Not the bully, Lorenzo (Gbenga Akinnagbe), who plans to beat Kevin up and steal the ticket. Not the hoochie mama (Teairra Marri), who angles to guarantee herself an annuity by becoming his baby mama.

Support comes from his friends Stacie (Naturi Naughton) and Benny, but also from an unexpected corner. Mr. Washington (Ice Cube), a recluse who lives on cherry cola and beef jerky, reminds Kevin that community is not a place to escape, but to uplift.

(Cube Vision, the actor/rapper's company, produced the movie.)

Like Kevin's lucky fortune cookie, Lottery Ticket is a sweet treat with a substantive message.


Lottery Ticket **1/2 (out of four stars)

Directed by Erik White. With Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Loretta Devine, and Naturi Naughton. Distributed by Warner Bros.

Running time: 1 hour, 35 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (profanity, sexuality, violence)

Playing at: area theaters


Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey

at 215-854-5402 or crickey@phillynews.com.

Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://www.philly.com/philly/

blogs/flickgrrl/

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