LOTTERY TICKET by Gary Murray Starring Bow Wow, Ice Cube, Brandon T. Jackson, Loretta Devine and Naturi Naughton Written by Abdul Williams and Erik White Directed by Erik White MPAA Rating PG-13 Running time 105 Selig Film Rating Cable Ethnic films have a definite built-in audience. Ever since the explosion of Black-exploitation films of a few decades ago, independent film-makers knew that with a black cast they could be assured a solid box office in certain geographic areas. But as these film professionals began to gain more clout, the films began to get better. The Friday series and all the Tyler Perry films have generated a huge following with all audiences. Trying to build on those gains is the newest urban comedy, Lottery Ticket. The film is of Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) a good kid in the projects. His entire existence is centered around shoes, both in the wearing and the design. He works at the local Foot Locker and dreams of going to design school. His still has his two best buddies Benny (Brandon T. Jackson) and Stacie (Naturi Naughton). Both are loyal to a fault and wanting to build a life away from their existence. Everybody in the projects is abuzz with lottery fever, a jackpot of 370 million. All the talk is what one would do with all that money and all the stuff that they would buy. Kevin wants no part of the discussion and feels that the lottery is just a tax on poor people. But as Kevin buys a ticket for his grandmother (Loretta Devine), he buys a ticket for himself using the number from Stacie's fortune cookie. The next morning the projects are going crazy. It seems that the local convenience store has sold the single ticket, the big winner. Checking his ticket, Kevin finds that he has those winning numbers. He and Benny go down to the lottery office to claim the prize only to find out that the office is closed for the Fourth of July holiday. So, Kevin must keep the secret of winning the ticket until he can claim his prize in a few days. The little secret gets out very quickly and everyone in the area wants a piece of Kevin. The local hottie wants to date him, the local godfather Sweet Tee (Keith David) want to be connected with him and the local out of jail thug just wants the winnings. Everybody in the hood wants a piece of him, all the way down to the local minister. All of these elements build to a confrontation and the realization that Kevin can change the circumstances of everyone by not being selfish. Mike Epps as Reverend Taylor just steals his scene, giving a sermon of what God wants him to have, a giant church, a big house and a sexy young wife. Ice Cube plays Mr. Washington the local hermit who hasn't been out of his apartment in years. He is almost the father figure for Kevin, showing him what a true man is. Ice Cube is becoming a fine character actor, stepping up the effort. Bow Wow is showing some promise as a young actor. He delivers his lines with a 'gee whiz' quality that is both effective and charming. He's this pure of heart kid, not some ghetto thug rolling with his homebodies. There is just this sincerity in the performance that rings true. Both Brandon T. Jackson and Naturi Naughton show commitment in underwritten roles, making the most of weak material. Loretta Devine is just charming as Grandma, giving a solid punch to her comedy lines. Charlie Murphy as Semaj comes across very weak, the comic showing a lack of giving a funny performance. A film like Lottery Ticket is made just for the audience intended, not the critics or the Academy. It is an entertainment and it succeeds on that level. . Director Erik White mixes humor and the more serious elements in a patchwork that works more often than not. While not a great movie, it is an interesting diversion.

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