The Lucky Ones
directed by Neil Burger
(Lions Gate, 2008)

Three soldiers back from Iraq team up and rent a car to drive to their respective destinations. Things happen to them along the way. When they get to their destinations, what they find is not what they expected.

That's The Lucky Ones in a nutshell. But it doesn't do justice to this quirky, touching and funny film.

Tim Robbins and Michael Pena give sturdy, soldierly performances, but the real story here is Rachel McAdams, who is mesmerizing as the blunt talking, somewhat naive, wounded (literally, in her thigh), deeply religious, sexually open-minded and perpetually optimistic Pvt. Colee Dunn. She is a ray of pure southern sunshine and steals every scene she is in.

Some highlights:

• A furious McAdams throws her soda on Pena when he insults her boyfriend, killed in Iraq, by saying he was unfit to be a soldier because he supposedly did armed robbery.
• McAdams lashes out in a bar when some Valley Girl-types mock her limp. "Good thing I didn't have my weapon," she says after.
• All three end up at an evangelical service and McAdams stands up to testify, blithely telling embarrassing secrets about her companions while they cringe.
• After locking their keys in the car, they trudge off for help and end up at a Hummer dealership. On the way back in a luxury Hummer, they compare this one with what they're used to.
• When McAdams arrives at her dead boyfriend's family, she finds out his colorful depiction of them was somewhat embellished. What she decides to tell them about him is even more embellished to spare their feelings. In fact, this scene is so moving it is probably the highlight of McAdams' acting career.
• Robbins is at a rich man's party and meets a beautiful woman who begins flirting with him. He asks if she's married and she says, "Umm." They both start laughing hysterically.

This movie has many such moments.

One lowlight: A contrived, cheap-looking tornado scene that's just in the movie to give Pena and McAdams a chance to huddle in a drainpipe, allowing a certain delightful discovery to be made. Afterward, the twister has blown the landscape to pieces, but their vehicle is untouched.

Final thought: This is not an Iraq movie. This is an America movie -- a terrific American road movie.

review by
Dave Sturm

31 July 2010

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new