“Hard Luck Love Song” was inspired by a song written by an American folk singer/songwriter named Todd Snider. His debut album, “Songs for the Daily Planet,” which came out in 1994, blew my mind. Now in his fifties, Snider still manages to write far-out lyrics that generally tell amusing anecdotes, but with powerful messages.
He then puts these lyrics to music that thoroughly entertains audiences of all ages. I like Snider’s songs. I’ve seen him in concert and have wholly enjoyed his work. For some reason, I couldn’t remember the song “Just Like Old Times” for which, as you know by now, this film is based. Being a fan, I was more than excited to review this film and jump into this Snider tune.
This movie is a crime thriller wrapped in a love story or vice versa. I’m really not sure which one. Anyway, we follow Jesse (Michael Dorman) as he lands in a dive of a motel called the Tumble Inn. As far as hotel names go, that has to be one of the best. He, oddly, has a portable 45 player. With little to do, he listens to some tunes, flips through a local magazine called “The Weekly Scene,” killing time and your interest in what he’s going to do next.
Director Justin Corsbie doesn’t have a lot of work under his belt and he’s attempting to establish an atmosphere for which this movie sorely lacks. Attempting is the keyword here. I peeked ahead and saw that the song’s lyrics tell the story of a pool hustler who is looking for a game. And yes. That’s precisely what happens. But first, Jesse picks up his guitar. We think to ourselves, ‘With this, here comes the song that will explain what we’re getting into!’ NOPE!
Jesse goes to a small bar and hustles a few people. After getting away with it a few times, he gets a warning from someone who knows what he’s doing. Instead of continuing to play Jesse, the guy tips him onto a pool tournament coming up that he should probably sign up for.
There have been a few scenes that give away that Jesse is a soft-hearted gentleman. Though it was too slow at times, I rather liked getting to know him. That said, the direction the story went didn’t make much sense with who he was as a person. Jesse may be a pool hustler, but he’s not jaded and cruel. Who he runs into are the actual monsters.
At this point, you haven’t seen anything from Mulroney, RZA, Roberts or Bush. They slowly come into play once you get to and beyond the tournament. Jesse getting into trouble at the tournament was a given. Most of the people he has met during the games have only them winning on their minds. Then Dermot Mulroney, who plays Rollo, a player who gets upset that he gets hustled, comes along. He gets upset that he got hustled?? But isn’t everyone at a tourney supposed to be good? If you can get fooled at a tournament, don’t buy in, am I right? This storyline just doesn’t hold water.
Then enter the girl with the scruffy voice, Carla played by Sophia Bush. She and Jesse were an item in New Orleans. He hasn’t gotten over her and asks her to come by for a visit. She agrees to meet him. They’re having a great time, and luckily for us, we hear Todd Snider’s song “Can’t Complain” during the scene, which has great lyrics. This pleases me. I would like to mention that we’re fifty-six minutes into the film and I’m starting to wonder, what is the point of this story I’m watching?
The lyrics for “Just Like Old Times” are,
“I hadn’t seen you since New Orleans, And I never did figure out where you ran off to
I know I looked bad the last time you saw me, But lately I been doin’ all right
I won a tournament last week in Oklahoma City, Hustled half of this town tonight
I got some cocaine if you want some, It’s the best that I could find”
We watch these lines play out. Yes, Jesse manages to score some blow, and he and his long-lost love are getting high and partying hard when there’s a knock on the door. Shocker! It’s the cops! They have to hide the sh*t! No biggie. He’s told there are just a few noise complaints on them and they need to quiet down. But the cop, officer Zach, would love to come back and party with them later if there’s an invite to do so. Really? There are some lyrics from the song that are used for this scene. They squeeze them in, even though it just doesn’t fit.
Well, luckily, Zach leaves before anything offbeat happens, with him, that is. The strange that does take place is the conversation that continues between the two ex-lovers. It’s all over the place. It’s not correctly structured. It’s painful to sit through, uninteresting and nothing meshes. Nothing. The last twenty minutes gets wild. There are a few surprising moments. It definitely picks up, but at this point, you’re no longer engaged. The writing just isn’t compelling enough. I cannot recommend this movie, not even for “Just Like Old Times,” which isn’t one of Snider’s best pieces. No wonder I didn’t recall hearing the number. It simply isn’t that good… much like this movie.
Roadside Attractions will release HARD LUCK LOVE SONG at the following area theater(s) on October 15th:
Supersrtition Springs 25
Arizona Mills 24
Hard Luck Love Song
Directed by: Justin Corsbie
Writers: Justin Corsbie and Craig Ugoretz
Starring: Michael Dorman, Sophia Bush, Dermot Mulroney, RZA, Melora Walters with Eric Roberts
Run Time: 1h 44min
Genres: Drama, Music, Romance, Roadside Attractions
What's your take?
And in this dream, I died. For the sake of argument, and because it's my dream, the cause of death was from sniffing airplane glue, doesn't matter.
And I'm at the pearly gates with St. Peter, and he tells me I can't come in, due to my extremely sinful life.
"But isn't there anything I can do to atone for my past misdeeds?", I beg.
"Well", says ol' Pete. "There is one thing. You can watch 'Hard Luck Love Song' all the way through."
So, I wind up serving the devil hot coffee (with just a little French Vanilla creamer) for all of eternity. And guess what the devil's favorite movie is?
Apparently, it's the only movie worse than "Hard Luck Love Song"...