Occasionally sharp dialogue, darkly humorous situations and solid acting from Vincent D'Onofrio and Gregory Hines elevate "Good Luck" (aka "Guys Like Us"), a road comedy about the evolving bond between two disabled men, only a notch above the inspirational earnestness of a routine telepic.

Occasionally sharp dialogue, darkly humorous situations and solid acting from Vincent D’Onofrio and Gregory Hines elevate “Good Luck” (aka “Guys Like Us”), a road comedy about the evolving bond between two disabled men, only a notch above the inspirational earnestness of a routine telepic. First release by new distributor East-West Film Partners will have a short theatrical life on its way to video, cable and other venues, but it should serve as a calling card for its gifted writer, Bob Comfort, who scripted Nancy Savoca’s “Dogfight.”

Ole (D’Onofrio) is a blind ex-football star who sits at home all day in front of the TV feeling sorry for himself. Since an accident on the field, Ole has developed a cynical attitude toward life, wallowing in self-pity and disgust. Things change considerably when he meets Lemley (Hines), an energetic wheelchair-bound dreamer whose goal is to launch an organization for the disabled that will advocate outdoor sports and a more “normal” life.

It takes time and effort for Lemley to persuade Ole that they should participate in a white-water raft race on Oregon’s Rogue River. The two hit the road, beginning in Seattle and stopping along the way in several scenic small towns, where they encounter humiliating treatment as well as confront their own fears and prejudices.

Comfort’s script is a tad too predictable and schematic, throwing the two men into adverse situations so that they can overcome their initial animosity toward each other and also test themselves. Nonetheless, his dialogue is often spiked and funny, as in a scene in which Ole picks up a woman in a bar but has to rely on his peer’s judgment as to her degree of attractiveness. Or in a later sequence, in which Lemley is locked in their motel’s bathroom while Ole makes love.

Of course, the obvious point of the narrative is for the two men to realize the joys and rewards of camaraderie, values that would not seem so insistently solemn and uplifting had the movie been better directed and more swiftly paced. But helmer Richard LaBrie, who previously staged the equally pedestrian “Joe’s Rotten World,” lacks the technical skills and style to give the material the punch and tempo it desperately needs.

Tale is helped considerably by the strong rapport between lead thesps D’Onofrio and Hines, who make their characters’ geographical and emotional journey intermittently entertaining. D’Onofrio excels when delivering a goofy monologue about constipation, and Hines hits his mark in recounting how he wished to be a dentist until he was hit by a car. Although there are some pleasing long shots of the picaresque countryside by lenser Maximo Munzi, overall tech credits are modest, befitting an intimate production best suited to the small screen.

Good Luck

Production

An East-West Film Partners release. Produced by Richard Kahn, Shirley Honickman Kahn, Andrzej Kamrowski. Executive producer, Bob Comfort. Co-producers, John Saler, Rik Pagano, Gerry (Moje) McKean. Directed by Richard LaBrie. Screenplay, Bob Comfort.

Crew

Camera (color), Maximo Munzi; editor, Neal Grieve; music, Tim Truman; production design, Jane Ann Stewart; set decoration, Ellen Zuckerman; sound (Dolby), Brett Grant-Grierson; assistant director, Carter Mays; casting, Rik Pagano. Reviewed at Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, Nov. 7, 1996. Running time: 95 min.

With

Bernard "Bern" Lemley - Gregory Hines
Tony "Ole" Olezniak - Vincent D'Onofrio
James Bing - James Earl Jones
Farmer John - Max Gail
Joe Theismann - Joe Theismann
Roy Firestone - Roy Firestone
Bartender - Robert O'Reilly
Peggy - Maria O'Brien
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