I have never seen Better Luck Tomorrow. I originally thought it was a re-released John Woo movie, one of his really bad ones before he came to America and “the bad ones” became “the decent ones”. The fact that Asians were in the previews and Bulletproof Monk came out the same week didn’t help. Turns out, it’s a movie about cocaine high-school gangs. I know this and the rest of the plot thanks to Bill Muller, the reviewer for my local newspaper, The Arizona Republic.
Bill has a template for most every review he writes, including this one- start with some glib remarks about a warmed over plot or inept dialogue, then jokily reference the title. About the new Gwyneth Paltrow movie he states, “If this is the View From the Top, I’d hate to see the view from the bottom,” and of the aforementioned Chow-Yun Fat movie, “Bulletproof Monk should have taken a vow of silence.” With that business taken care of, he uses the remaining space to reveal the entire plot.
Movie trailers are bad enough, but Bill actually takes it to a new level, revealing to the reader all major and minor characters, central story arcs, sub-plots, good jokes, scary parts, and location of the final gun fight. Half the time, he will return to an actual critique for his final line and revisit an earlier theme, the title-as-gag, for one final jab, something like, “Unfortunately, Boat Trip leaves the laughs back on shore.” Other times however, he will go on to tell us the resolution of the movie, almost as if he has forgotten he is a critic, but rather a novelist, finishing up his exciting new book about a junior CIA agent named Cody Banks.
This wouldn’t be so bad if he worked for a small town weekly or a lame internet site, but he is ruining movies for an entire metropolitan area. They are predictable enough without his cliff notes. His five-year tenure casts doubt on whether or not he’ll be fired anytime soon, but when he is, I will say to him, “Better luck… next time.”
On a scale of film journalism credibilty, where blurb-machine Byron Allen is a 1 and Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers is a 10, Bill Muller’s review of Better Luck Tomorrow rates a Gene Shalit, the numerical equivalent of a 0.