Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones - Three wounded Iraq vets who meet on the plane home are stranded at Kennedy Airport by a power failure. Cheever (Tim Robbins) is a middle aged sergeant who has finished his hitch and can't wait to get back to the wife and life he had in St. Louis before his call-up intervened. Cheever decides to drive. His new buddies TK (Michael Pena) and Colee (Rachel McAdams), both headed for Vegas on 30 day injury leave before heading back to war, tag along to get to a functioning airport and a road trip ensues.
The road buddies establish their own family-like rapport as they deal with major personal problems and encounter civilian America in a trek that includes a tornado, an auto accident, faith healing, and a surprise sexual enounter. A more detailed plot summary runs quickly into the spoiler danger zone, as the film features a myriad of small twists, several driven by coincidence.
Pena handles the role of the know-it-all, hard case TK with just enough obnoxious edge and scared center. McAdams is believable and endearing as the very young and unsophisticated private Colee, whose fearless nosiness, good cheer and groundless optimism might be wisdom in disguise. TK is reluctant to talk about his groin injury, but Colee's going to get him help anyway - no matter how many people she needs to tell. Robbins as Cheever is probably the least convincing performance of the three, but he's more than good enough as a mature every-man hammered by a series of body blows just as he thought his life was about to go back to normal.

As Good As News enjoyed the film. For those who might not want to see an Iraq War movie - 1) there is only one, brief war scene, this is a USA road trip; 2) there are sad moments, but there are wacky developments and the atmosphere on the road is often light; 3) there is a significant component of humor. The film was getting some out-loud laughs from the symposium audience and it wasn't driven by slick Juno-esque banter but by the kind of things real people might say and a keen eye for the occasional absurd note in Americana.

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