Soldiers returning home from Iraq deserve a proper narrative feature that addresses the physical discomfort, mental anguish, and emotional hardship they encounter while assimilating into the day-to-day routines of normal life.
The Lucky Ones is not that film. It is, instead, a sloppily executed (though decently acted) road trip picture that manages to do one thing consistently, and that's veer off the path of good intentions and crash.
When a blackout grounds every plane traveling in and out of New York City, three Army reservists played by Tim Robbins
, Rachel McAdams
, and Michael Peña
are forced to share a rental car -- and an array of improbable, life-altering experiences. McAdams describes the trio as the lucky ones because they "made it through (the war) in one piece," though that's hardly accurate, as we'll find out over the course of an interminable trudge along every skeleton in these characters' closets. Article continues below
I'm guessing Lucky Ones director Neil Burger
adopts a jokey tone for his picture to potentially avoid the somberness that chased audiences away from Stop-Loss
, Lions For Lambs
, In the Valley of Elah
, and a handful of other Iraq-related dramas. For most of its run, Lucky Ones is light, social, conversational, and, as a result, wholly inappropriate. It mistakenly believes it is laudable simply because it constructs a story around our country's servicemen and women. But when Burger and co-writer Dirk Wittenborn are tasked with inventing credible conflicts for their troops, Lucky Ones topples like a two-legged table.
There's no excusing the horrendous script, a shameful quilt of unlikely predicaments that undermine the drama that should accompany the story of soldiers returning home to face their personal issues. Are we really supposed to believe, in our age of instant communication, that Robbins' sergeant hadn't heard his son got into Stanford, and couldn't deduce that his wife had fallen out of love with him? Would Peña, who is impotent after taking shrapnel to the groin, really head to Las Vegas for "professional" assistance before reuniting with his fiancée? These pale in comparison, however, to the film's jaw-dropper: an impromptu tornado, which touches down over Peña and McAdams minutes after they encounter traveling sex workers who occupy an RV stationed in the backwoods of Utah.
I'd say you need to see it to believe it, but that almost suggests you should pay for a ticket. You should not. The actual lucky ones will be sitting in a different movie theater, watching anything but this.