Good Luck Chuck

Starring Dane Cook, Jessica Alba, and Dan Fogler. Rated 18A.

You have to admire the nifty little premise of Good Luck Chuck. It's about a young dentist (Dane Cook) whose romantic life is cursed. Ever since the age of 10–when a strange little girl put a hex on him during a game of spin-the-bottle–Charlie Logan has been unable to experience true love. It's not that he doesn't enjoy the casual sex that accompanies a series of dead-end relationships. Deep down, Charlie wants more. Ironically, it turns out that every woman Charlie beds meets and marries the man of her dreams shortly after sleeping with him. Soon Charlie's answering machine is clogged with messages from eager single women who want to hump him and dump him before moving on to wedded bliss.

At first, Charlie is more than willing to help out. He becomes the envy of his sex-obsessed best friend (an obnoxious plastic surgeon played with piggish gusto by Balls of Fury's Dan Fogler), but it doesn't take long before sex with an endless array of gorgeous women takes on all the pleasure of a horizontal root canal. Then Charlie meets the accident-prone Cam (Jessica Alba, who falls down and hits her head a lot). When romantic sparks begin to fly, Charlie decides that Cam is the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with. The problem? If he sleeps with Cam, she's bound to move on to some other guy and find the happiness that Charlie craves.

The cast works hard to win us over. Alba is genuinely sweet, and you can feel Cook gamely trying to channel the offbeat charm of Steve Martin with mixed results. But Good Luck Chuck suffers from unsuccessfully trying to be two kinds of movies at once. At heart, it's a gross-out comedy relentlessly focused on trying to top the gold standard of bad taste set by American Pie and There's Something About Mary. But at the same time, it's clear that first-time director Mark Helfrich wants to graft on a worthwhile date movie. Unfortunately, all the desperately cute lines about finding true love can't make up for a script designed for the kind of jerks who buy bumper stickers that read "No fat chicks allowed".