Movies based on popular songs often bring specifics to better capitalize on hooks. For Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe,” the 1976 film adaptation addressed a question the song doesn’t answer: What did Billy Joe and the narrator throw off Tallahatchie’s Bridge? On the other hand, all that was needed for the 1954 movie “White Christmas” was its title Irving Berlin song, a few more songs from Irving Berlin and stars in Santa hat.
“Hard Luck Love Song” is based on Todd Snider’s song “Just Like Old Times”. Snider is no superstar, but he is a troubadour with strong followers and a good sense of history songs. “Old Times” is a simple and ironically poignant tale in which a pool scammer phones escort service from his motel and is soon greeted by his former high school sweetheart.
The film, co-written and directed by Justin Corsbie and produced by Snider, puts flesh – much of it appealing to the level of a movie star – on the bones of the song. Michael Dorman’s Jesse and Sophia Bush’s Carla are pictured partying with revenge, fueled by both alcohol and cocaine. Yet by the time they light up for a bar (mostly to put the plot into third gear), they both look as freshly cleaned as a couple on the bright side of a deodorant ad.
The actual story of the song ends approximately one hour and ten minutes after the movie begins. After which “Hard Luck Love Song” collapses further. The twists are violent and silly and bear little relation to the harsh realities of Snider’s world. Corsbie has energy to spare, but also makes plenty of undergraduate mistakes, including an awkward needle drop from Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion song “Bell Bottoms,” which was performed permanently in the scene from opening of Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” in 2017.
Lucky love song
Rated R for language and partying with revenge and cocaine. Duration: 1 hour 44 minutes. In theaters.