With Just My Luck, Lindsay Lohan, a few months shy of her 20th birthday, graduates from kiddie movies to the marginally more grown-up genre of Manhattan career-girl romantic comedy, following in the footsteps of Kate Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker and, if you want to go way back, Doris Day.
The film, directed by Donald Petrie (Mystic Pizza, Miss Congeniality, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) obliquely acknowledges this lineage. At one point, an orange Dolce & Gabbana dress said to belong to Parker is mistakenly delivered to Lohan's character, who blithely wears it on a date with a rich, studly suitor.
But this is not Sex and the City, even though one of the credited screenwriters, Amy Harris, used to work on that show; it's not even Failure to Launch. (Parker never shows up to claim that dress, by the way.) Just My Luck is a bit of lukewarm cappuccino froth confected to float Lohan to the next stage of her career.
She remains an appealing screen presence, with an ability to undercut her own cuteness with quick timing and a Doris Day-like knack for mugging in character. The movie itself is innocuous and flat-footed, taking the safest possible route through its semi-ingenious supernatural conceit.
The idea is that Ashley (Lohan) is blessed with extraordinary good fortune, which means she can always find a cab, is never caught in traffic or bad weather, and coasts upward at her job at a public relations firm.
Meanwhile, her opposite number and eventual heartthrob, Jake (Chris Pine), finds himself stuck in an endless run of bad luck. We first meet Jake, who manages a British pop band (the actual British pop band McFly) in between humiliations, as he tries to deliver a demo CD to a record company mogul (Faizon Love). His pants fall down, he executes several flailing pratfalls, and he is rewarded for his troubles with a trip to jail.
Eventually, he and Ashley meet at a costume party, where they kiss, swapping luck along with spit. Now her life unravels in a series of mishaps, while for him everything starts going right. McFly scores a record deal! Then there is a second kiss, and a few more, and the movie is over, just as you knew it would be.
Along the way, there are the usual romantic comedy decorations: a pair of mildly eccentric, inexplicably single friends (Samaire Armstrong and Bree Turner) for Ashley, as well as a snooty boss (Missi Pyle); Jake has an adorable young cousin (Makenzie Vega) who lives down the hall. The only thing missing is an actual joke or a situation that is in any way charming or surprising.