In Lucky Day, Chloe Webb (China Beach) plays Allison, a young retarded woman who lives with her sister Kari (Field of Dreams’ Amy Madigan). Kari has taken care of Allison for 14 years — ”for half of my life,” as she puts it — and she’s more than a little bitter that their mother (Moonstruck’s Olympia Dukakis) hasn’t shared more of the responsibility. Dukakis’ character, however, has problems of her own: An alcoholic whose husband abandoned her shortly after Allison’s birth, she’s been sober for only two years, is finding sobriety difficult to maintain, and freely admits that Allison ”scares me-after all these years, she still scares me.”
This difficult emotional triangle would be more than enough for an ordinary TV movie, but Lucky Day tosses in an interesting wrinkle: Allison wins $2 million in the state lottery. Suddenly, her mother, who until now has visited Allison at Kari’s apartment perhaps once a week, wants Allison to move in with her. Allison’s ”lucky day” brings all the roiling emotions in these three lives to the surface.
What’s most interesting about the screenplay, by John Axness and Jennifer Miller, is that Allison’s retardation isn’t made the primary issue in Lucky Day. There are lots of things going on here, including, as one character observes, Kari’s ”dependency” on Allison — an excessive need to care for her sister that has precluded any chance for Kari to have a satisfying professional or personal life. In fact, in the context of this unhappy family, Allison is probably the healthiest person around.
Executive producer-director Donald Wrye (Amerika) has treated Lucky Day with an even hand — no one is a pure hero or villain. Unfortunately, the weakest part of the film is its conclusion, in which many loose psychological ends are hastily tied up for a happy, even sappy, ending. Before that, however, there’s a lot of excellent acting, particularly from Madigan, who, as the person caught in the middle, is gratifyingly complex. B+