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'Good Luck' trying to find laughs

Jessica Alba plays Dane Cook's ditzy love interest in the romantic comedy 'Good Luck Chuck.' Jessica Alba plays Dane Cook's ditzy love interest in the romantic comedy "Good Luck Chuck." (SERGEI BACHLAKOV)

In "Good Luck Chuck," Jessica Alba resumes her fearless quest to make someone, somewhere, laugh. For this occasion, she plays a sweet dingbat being pursued by Dane Cook. That he wants her at all testifies to Alba's appeal as a cover girl, not her prowess as a comedian.

This obnoxious, ugly-looking movie isn't even about her. It's about how sex with Cook guarantees certain women (chesty, blonde, dim) that the next man they meet will be Mr. Right. Cook's character, a dentist named Chuck, doesn't want this curse. All he wants is Alba. And like most movies in which Alba appears, this one can't wait to strip her down to her panties. This is less an affront to women than it is to comedy.

The filmmakers think the best way to make Alba accessibly human is to humiliate her. So Cam, the penguin trainer she plays, is a klutz. If she can walk into a pole or bang her face on the foot of an ice slide, she does. This is excruciating and exasperatingly unfunny, like standing under a piñata that yields no treats regardless of how many times you beat it.

In her defense, no one with breasts in this movie is funny, not even Chuck's fat, horny best friend, Stu (Dan Fogler), although we're supposed to find him a riot. Stu is a doctor who keeps Pamela Anderson's original implants in a case in his office. He says he masturbates to one patient's mammograms. And he berates Chuck for finding one-night-stands with dozens of women a chore.

The character exists in part to make Chuck seem virtuous. So when Chuck lies beneath his desperate assistant, a big, bossy black woman, it's played as an act of cringe-inducing charity. What? Stereotypes need love, too.

Cook works hard to be funny and stay likable. But respectability doesn't suit him. Either that or movies don't. He hasn't yet found a way to get laughs out of being a nice guy in a romantic comedy. Then again, if you've found yourself in a movie that permits you to make out with Jessica Alba over and over, I imagine being funny, smart, or entertaining is probably the last thing on your mind.

"Good Luck Chuck" was written by Josh Stolberg and directed by Mark Helfrich, a veteran film editor of such classics as "Action Jackson" and "Showgirls" as well as most of Brett Ratner's movies. There's a crumb of a good idea here. Chuck fights the urge to have sex with Cam, who's ready to go, because, according to his affliction, she'll just fall for another man. It's a good device either for science-fiction or romantic comedy. But since there's no intelligence to drive the jokes, the gimmick turns tiresome quick.

Instead, "Good Luck Chuck" doubles as an excuse for its makers to come to work and gawk at topless chicks. In that respect, the filmmaking and the the breasts have something in common: They're fake.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to boston.com/ae/ movies/blog.

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Good Luck Chuck

Directed by: Mark Helfrich

Written by: Josh Stolberg

Starring: Dane Cook and Jessica Alba

At: Boston Common, Fenway, Boston, and suburbs

Running time: 96 minutes

Rated: R (sequences of strong sexual content including crude dialogue, nudity, language, and some drug use)

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