Film: Pure Luck

A 1991 movie starring Danny Glover and Martin Short. They're hired to find a missing heiress, Valerie (Sheila Kelley) who is extremely accident prone. Glover's character, Raymond Campanella, is going because he's a professional investigator. Short's character, Eugene Proctor, has been sent because he also has exceptionally bad luck, and an employee of Valerie's father's believes that he might literally stumble upon her. Hilarity Ensues.

The film is a very close remake of French Knock on Wood (original title La Chèvre — "the goat") starring Pierre Richard and Gérard Depardieu. It was the third and last attempt to remake Richard's comedies — not the failure of The Man With One Red Shoe but still below the moderate success of Three Fugitives.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: Raymond is convinced to allow Eugene to believe that he is leading the investigation on Valerie's whereabouts, while he really is doing the leading. Comes without saying that most of their vitriol comes from Raymond not quite being able to keep his attitude in check and Eugene letting the power go to his head.
  • Bee Afraid: Double subversion. The kidnappers' plane with Valerie crashed somewhere in jungle. Raymond expects Eugene to crash in the same area. Shortly before boarding the plane Eugene says that a bee is following him and he's allergic to bees. At this point viewers can guess what is going to cause the crash. But then the bee just leaves. Raymond assumes that the bad luck has switched its target again and it's his turn to be the Chew Toy. Then the bee comes back and stings Eugene who swells comically and has to stay in hospital (where he learns of the village Valerie burned by accident).
  • Butt Monkey: Eugene is the most active slapstick (and life-risking) version, while Raymond receives a variety of disasters (like being subjected to a barrage of Police Brutality after being wrongly arrested) just from being around Eugene.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Eugene believing that his luck (which has nearly killed him repeatedly throughout his life) is good luck. In his defense, the therapist makes him believe that as part of the general scheme of making him believe he is the leader.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Eugene is a rare male version. Valerie is this trope played straight... both to Walking Disaster Area levels.
  • Easy Amnesia: The plot starts because Valerie bonks her head and forgets who she is. The people who try to take advantage of this soon come to regret it.
  • Epic Fail: It takes an exceptional type of failing luck to lead the lives Eugene and Valerie have lived... including such disasters as stopping on the sole spot with loose sand in the middle of the Mexican desert (leaving the car stranded and the pair exposed to a drive-by shooting) and setting an entire village on fire while making breakfast (one of Valerie's worst off-screen acts).
  • Failed a Spot Check: After a local criminal robs Eugene, Raymond takes a break from tracking down the alleged kidnapper to help him. They raid a poker game to force the criminal to repay Eugene. After they leave, they go back to tracking down the kidnapper. Raymond takes out a picture of him and realizes he was at the poker game.
  • Foreign Remake: Of the French film Knock on Wood (La Chevre). Very faithful to the original. There is only one new scene — when a gorilla tries to kidnap Eugene, falls off a tree and runs away.
  • Genre Savvy: Monosoff suggests sending Eugene because his bad luck might lead him to the same bad luck as Valerie. It works.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: A wild gorilla in Mexican jungle.
  • Takes One to Kill One: Well, not kill, but after Raymond is utterly incapable of finding Valerie by his own, he is convinced by Valerie's father and a therapist to use Eugene (who has the exact same amount of horrible luck and klutziness) as a "divining rod" to track Valerie's whereabouts. Much to Raymond's displeasure, this works.
  • The Klutz: Eugene and Valerie are both supreme examples.
  • Long List: The list of disasters that have happened to Valerie and Eugene, said to convince Raymond about the "luck tracker" theory. Raymond is unable to believe it and downs his scotch afterwards.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: The ones that try to take advantage of Valerie have it very bad. For starters, her having Easy Amnesia and her documents stolen by a pickpocket while she's still reeling from the impact that created it make it impossible for them to identify her (and thus cannot simply tell her father that they have her) and their attempts to profit from hear through other means are all demolished by her horrifically bad luck. By the time Eugene and Raymond find the kidnapper, he's fearing for his life because said disasters have pissed off a big-time drug dealer, and when he's hit on a drive-by he just calmly accepts that Valerie's luck was the end of him.
  • Salt and Pepper: Eugene and Raymond. Raymond's by the book, Eugene is just an idiot.
  • South of the Border.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: By the end of the film.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Eugene and Valerie. People die, is subjected to Police Brutality Disproportionate Retribution and entire towns are burnt to the ground with them around.