Lottery-mania is sweeping the nation today, as the MegaMillions jackpot is now up to approximately $650 million, and could be even higher by day’s end. People don’t just love the lottery, but people love stories about winning the lottery because of all the inherent drama in such a windfall.
Some person or family is going to find that their life will change overnight, and not necessarily for the better, as many of these movies will attest. All of these conceits lend themselves to compelling cinema, so it’s no wonder lottery winners are WAY overrepresented in film. As are superheroes, zombies, and Katherine Heigl.
Here are a handful of lottery films that show you how shitty people can be.
This urban delight features Bow Wow (he ain’t so lil’ anymore!), Ice Cube, and probably Mike Epps and Cedric the Entertainer as a Friday-type film in which Bow Wow’s character, Kevin, finds he’s holding a $375 million-winning lottery ticket and tries to hold on to it over Fourth of July weekend. The film is flawed in that, if any reasonable person felt in danger of having their lottery ticket stolen by neighborhood ruffians, they would lock themselves in a closet till the heat died down rather than risk losing the spoils, but whatever. It’s not a good movie, so being critical is a little silly.
In this film, two Irishman seek out their town’s lottery winner, only to find that he died of shock in his home upon learning that he was the lucky guy. They then get the whole town in on a ruse to fool the claims inspector (what a British title that is) into think that Ned Divine is alive and well.
Good-natured British hijinks ensue, the woman who was going to rat them out gets killed by an errant car, and the film ends Entourage-style, as they all toast their good fortune on a picturesque bluff.
This made-for-TV movie is about a lottery only in the strictest sense. Based on a Shirley Jackson short story, this macabre tale shows a day in the life of a town with an odd tradition. That tradition? Every year, the townspeople put their name in a hat, and one name is drawn out.
You know what happens to that person whose card gets pulled? They get stoned to death on the spot by all the townspeople. Pretty sweet, no?
What’s not so sweet is the presence of MTV Sports’ Dan Cortese as an outsider who comes back to witness the dark events first hand. In case you aren’t familiar with Dan Cortese, imagine inserting this guy (see below) into a seminal American folk story classic.
Yeah. That guy. In the bandana. And Felicity is in it too. Read the short story instead. It’s terrific.
Lisa Kudrow! John Travolta! Michael Moore? Michael Rapaport? Wow. The starpower really petered off there a lot quicker than I thought it would. Oh well.
This “film” (quotes mine) follows some shady Harrisburg, Pennsylvania folks as they conspire to rig the lottery. John Travolta plays a local weatherman with a failing snowmobile dealership (naturally), Tim Roth plays his sleazy best friend, Lisa Kudrow plays the best friend’s sleazy gf, and Ed O’Neil plays the guy that’s also banging her.
The whole lot manages to double cross each other enough that the film ends with mayhem, murder, and lessons learned. Does John Travolta die?
You’ll have to watch it to find out! So will I, for that matter. I haven’t seen this and wouldn’t watch it with a gun to my head. But, hey, lottery movie, right?
This is the only film on this list that is even close to true. Which is remarkable, because it’s probably the least believable one. This 1994 film, starring Nic Cage and Bridget Fonda (What ever happened to her? She was hot.), tells to the story of an NYC cop (Cage) who, in lieu of a tip, offered to split a lottery ticket with Tomei’s waitress. She even got to pick three of the six numbers.
Well, the number hit for a jackpot of $6 million, and the police officer, true to his word, gives the waitress the best tip of her life: $124,000 per year for 20 years. Not a bad return for serving one customer at a pizza joint. Also, remember that this event actually took place in 1984, when $6 million was, like, a billion dollars.
Beyond that very interesting premise, the movie goes on to inject a whole mess of romantic comedy drama that involves the cop and waitress getting divorced from their partners and getting married to each other, which definitely didn’t happen in real life.
Still, the real life story is cool enough that I believe, yes, one day it could happen to me.