This genial little fairy tale of a comedy gives us a likable hero and an irresistible fantasy. Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) is a good, honest, hard-working kid who lives with his grandmother (Loretta Devine) in the projects. He is so diligent he irons his shoelaces and so kind-hearted that he is the only one who will do errands for a neighbor who has not left his house in decades and is reputed to be a serial killer.
Every day, Kevin walks to his job at the sports shoe store in the mall with his best friends Benny (Brandon T. Jackson of “Tropic Thunder” and “Percy Jackson”) and Stacie (Naturi Naughton of “Fame”), for companionship and safety. They have to pass through some dangerous spots on the way because not everyone in the community wants to see them get there on time. Some do not want them to achieve anything. They want to discourage them from having any ambition that includes participation in the society outside of their community. And some are more predatory and want to take away what little they have.
Kevin’s grandmother has him play her numbers by buying a lottery ticket every week. Just before a three-day 4th of July weekend, when the pot is over $130 million, on impulse Kevin buys a ticket for himself, with the lucky numbers from a fortune cookie. And he wins.
But the lottery office won’t be open until after the holiday, so Kevin has to figure out a way to hold onto the ticket and resist the persuasive powers of everyone from a tough guy just out of prison to the local crime kingpin and the pretty girl who suddenly finds him utterly fascinating.
Producer Ice Cube, who plays the man who never leaves his home, has produced another comedy with a tender heart about poor people and their challenges and dreams. If he tries to have it both ways, with some painful stereotypes and some affectingly vivid personalities, with one character saying that the lottery is designed to keep poor people poor by selling them false dreams and then have someone win $370 million, if it has both a shopping spree montage and some important lessons about what money can’t buy, well, that’s what makes it a fairy tale. And what makes it a pleasant one to watch is the effortless charm of Bow Wow and Jackson.