In a new "urban comedy" film, young rap star Bow Wow plays an inner city teenager who wins a huge lotto jackpot and then has to deal with both the up and down sides of becoming an instant millionaire. Here's a look at Lottery Ticket.
"I want you to play my numbers for me on the way home …and don't let anybody copy them either, all right, because those are my numbers. I dreamt them up last night and they're right out of the Holy Scripture here."
Teenager Kevin is probably the only person in the Atlanta public housing project not excited about the lottery jackpot that has climbed to $370 million. Kevin has other things on his mind: keeping his job at a shopping mall shoe store, pipe dreaming about starting his own business and trying to get a date with the neighborhood's prettiest girl. But his grandmother wants a ticket, so he waits in the long line to buy it:
"How many tickets do you need, man? What do you have?"
"I just need one, all right? Here, play those numbers for me."
As an afterthought, he buys one more ticket for himself (using numbers from the slip of paper in the fortune cookie from his Chinese restaurant lunch); and, don't you know it, against all odds his ticket is the sole winner:
"You got all six numbers!"
"Yes! We won!"
"I've got to call somebody."
"No! Nobody can know about this, all right?"
Kevin worries that if word gets out, everyone will want a share of the good fortune. The trouble is it's a holiday weekend and when he and his best friend go to the state lottery office they find it closed:
"Closed …for the Fourth of July. We open again Tuesday at 9AM."
"Tuesday? That's three whole days. Do you know how much can happen in three whole days?"
Sure enough, word about his winning ticket spreads like wildfire and Kevin spends the weekend fending off opportunists and criminals alike, while also learning who his true friends are:
It is definitely a crazy story coming from nothing and then all of a sudden you have all of this money and all of this power and everybody wants a piece.
Shad Gregory Moss, better known by his stage name "Bow Wow," became famous as "Lil Bow Wow" with his first rap album at age 13 (10 years ago) and says he could identify with his character Kevin's dilemma:
"People turn on you. You have trust issues. You don't know who to trust or what to believe any more. It's definitely real. We see it every day," Lil Bow Wow says. "We see kids come from the inner cities who go to school for one year and then they sign these $80-$90 million (pro sports) contracts. These are things that are actually going on: a young kid coming from the 'hood making it and now he's in this whole other position. It is real."
"You know what, you don't even have to go to design school. You could start your own shoe company."
"Yeah, I guess I could."
"That is all you've been talking about since you were nine years old. This is it, Kevin."
Naturi Naughton co-stars as Stacey, Kevin's lifelong friend, who reminds him that money can't buy love and trust, but it can let him do positive things:
"Her character really wants to emphasize him doing something with that money. It's not just about giving it to friends, it's about giving it to the entire community so we can come up out of the projects and do something with our lives and feel inspired by someone taking the time to give back to the community," Naughton says. "I think Stacey cares more about that then about just getting a piece of the money."
The cast also features Ice Cube as a neighborhood hermit who becomes Kevin's protector. The rapper and actor is also producer of Lottery Ticket, a change of pace from the broad comedies he usually stars in:
"In my music everything is pretty hard-core, talking about all the things that trouble me or trouble us; but in the movies, people pay their hard-earned money and they want to go be entertained and want to get a lift. We have moments in there and say the things that need to be said sometimes, but ultimately people have fun and to me that's what movies are all about."
Veteran music video director Erik White makes his feature film debut with Lottery Ticket and says he wanted comic episodes to surround, but not drown out the film's 'learning moments'.
"It's not a full-on comedy," White explains. "It's more of a great story with funny stuff in it, which makes it a little bit different from the typical 'urban' film. I really wanted to get across a story with some moral fiber to it, to give people something to think about when they leave the theater. That was one thing that always bothered me about some urban films: when you walk away you're not left with anything to ponder. I think this concept was something that works with that."
"If you won the lottery, what would you do?"
"Me? You know, take care of my family, travel, and finish school …all that good stuff; but if I had your kind of money, I'd give back. Give people something to live for instead just living, you know?"
Lottery Ticket was filmed on location in an Atlanta, Georgia public housing neighborhood with a cast of comedy and rap music stars including T-Pain, Brandon T. Jackson, Terry Crews, Bill Bellamy, Mike Epps and Loretta Devine.