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  • Three soldiers are home from Iraq; a 40-ish Tim Robbins out for good and the young Michael Pena and Rachel McAdams on a thirty day leave. Each has their own problem that they are faced with at the beginning of the film. Robbins comes home to a wife who wants a divorce and a son who needs $20,000 for college, Pena suffered a wound that has made him impotent and McAdams lost her friend and wants to find his family in order to return his guitar and live with them since she's lost any ties with her own. Think every problem is going to be solved in a little bow by the end? Well, you'd be right. Think that it's going to really typical and schmaltzy? Not so much on that one. It seems like a film that's made for the obvious ups and downs throughout but it actually manages to be quite original and refreshing. Instead of feeling like a film that's just about resolving the individual situations, it's a lot more carefree and a lot more about these three people simply enjoying life together and keeping one another joyful.

    Of course there are many different stops on the way to their ultimate destinations in order to give us some situations of them interacting in the real world, but each one is a lot of fun and we gain a little more depth to the characters at each stop. All of the characters are well-fleshed out and don't feel like just another retread of stereotypes we've seen over and over again. One of the things that really surprised me is that when a little romance starts to bloom between Pena and McAdams, I didn't roll my eyes like I would have expected but instead I smiled and enjoyed watching this flirtation grow between the two of them in a non-typical way. And all the way through we are treated to three strong performances from three solid actors.

    The real star is Rachel McAdams, who I'd say is Oscar-worthy. She keeps the laughs coming all the way through and steals every single scene with her bright eyes and southern drawl, but you can tell that there is real emotion brimming just under the surface. She's a girl who has every reason to hate life with a fury, but she remains optimistic and tries to get those around her to enjoy living just as much as she does. One scene in particular, when she finally meets the family of her fallen friend, is a showcase for what an extraordinary actress she is. This is her best performance by a long shot, and definitely one of the best of the year. The Lucky Ones is something that could have been obvious and clichéd, but ended up being just the opposite; a refreshing and very well-acted story that I wish wasn't destined to be forgotten come awards season.
  • Three soldiers who have received non life threatening wounds in Iraq are together on a plane to New York. Two of them are on thirty day leaves while the other has served his time and is on his way home. Due to a power outage, all flights out of New York have been canceled. The three agree to rent a car together in order to continue the trip to their destinations. Thus begins a road trip that is highly dramatic with its share of comic events.

    Fred Cheaver is the middle aged father figure of the three - a man who never really expected to do anything in the army except serve his domestic reserve duty. He is glad to be rid of the whole thing and is headed home to his wife and son. The two young soldiers who accompany Fred are Colee Dunn and T.K. Poole. Colee is a bright-eyed innocent who is on a mission for a fallen comrade who saved her life. T.K. is a no nonsense soldier from a family of soldiers who plans to make the army his career and move up the chain of command.

    Whereas, Fred's quest is to return home to wife and son, Colee's and T.K.'s goals are to travel to Las Vegas for two entirely different reasons. Colee wants to return her dead comrade's treasured guitar to his family. T.K.'s reason is somewhat mysterious, but we know it is related in some way to his injury that has left him temporarily impotent.

    As with all road trip films, the experiences and interactions of these three lead to conclusions not expected by them or the viewers.

    Unlike most films featuring vets returning from the horrors of war, this film is not filled with dark angst - not to say the characters are not well-fleshed and genuine. These three are real people with real problems, but their depictions are not heavy-handed.

    During this film, the viewer gets to enjoy the work of three excellent actors. Tim Robbins gives his usual fine, understated performance as the older man facing some totally unexpected twists of fate. Rachel McAdams gives Colee a likable innocence but also reveals some darker layers of her character. Michael Peña is very, very good as the macho guy with a heart who only wants to be a good soldier. Watching these three interact is a real treat.

    Some may consider the treatment of the subject matter of this film too light handed, but it has a gentleness that rings true. It is surely worth watching.
  • Neil Burger's offbeat, quirky, dramatic movie is a triumph. It succeeds in all the aspects, from the technical parts to the acting, I can't find a single negative thing about it. Burger doesn't dilly-dally around, he went straight to the point of his subject, giving a fair amount of time for each of the three characters (McAdams, Pena and Robbins) to develop and eventually you can't help but really like them...a lot. Especially McAdams but more on that later. The script is tightly wound, the chemistry between the three protagonists doesn't seem forced, the movie doesn't force you to like them the moment the movie starts but instead, these colorful characters will gradually grow on you.

    Tim Robbins, one of my favorite actors, doesn't disappoint. 2008, I have seen him in two movies the other one being The City of Ember. And as long as a movie has Tim Robbins in it, I'm sold. That's why I watched the movie in the first place. Michael Pena, another great guy, gives off a good vibe towards the movie and once you know what's been bothering his character, you can't help but laugh at how one-sided and ridiculous his problem is. Pena gives one of his greatest performance on screen. And of course, the belle of the ball, the star of the show, Rachel McAdams gives a quirky, zesty and joyful performance as a lovable Southerner and I can't help but be reminded of another quirky, zesty and joyful character, Amelie. She just keeps the laughs rolling in and steal every scene she's in. She gives the character such depth that one might come off as one dimensional had it been portrayed by a lesser talent. Definitely an underrated performance for 2008.

    Highly recommended.
  • The Lucky ones concerns three Iraq War soldiers who have just returned to the States: Fred Cheever (Tim Robbins) is out for good, and can't wait to reunite with his wife and son in St. Louis; T.K. Poole (Michael Pena) has suffered an embarrassing injury and is on his way to reconnecting with his fiancée before heading back overseas; and the also-injured Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams) is on a mission to deliver a precious guitar to her deceased boyfriend's parents in Las Vegas. These strangers are brought together when JFK Airport is shut down indefinitely. Deciding that renting a car is a better option than twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the planes to fly, they hit the road on an eventful journey that will bring them closer together than they ever would have expected... The Lucky Ones is a film that doesn't really make any statements about the war. Instead it's a character study of these 3 soldiers and it shows how the return from war can be weird and bizarre. The film handles some very dramatic subjects but, always in a light way. As in every road trip film, the character's journey is full of chance encounters and misadventures, and each one of the soldiers ends up fighting some of their own demons or coming to certain realizations. Granted, some of the events feel a bit contrived, but this is a dramedy, not a realistic war drama. The film was very well acted starting with Michael Pena, who despite doing mostly small roles, was a pleasant surprise as a central character. The veteran Tim Robbins delivered a good, even if subtle, performance as the older soldier who's life becomes upside down. However the film belongs to the gorgeous Rachel McAdams; she was feisty, charismatic and overall, just great, as she usually is. One cannot help but to fall a little bit in love with her every time she does a film. At the end of the day, The Lucky Ones is a quirky little film with a certain gentleness that works mainly, because it focuses on the characters and their emotions and not on the war and it's motives. Definitely a nice watch.

  • The Lucky Ones (2008) ***1/2

    Here's a fact: movies about the current war in Iraq have done about as well as... well, the current war in Iraq. To be fair, none of them have really been great. Even Tommy Lee Jones' In the Valley of Elah did not manage well financially, though it did manage to get half decent reception from critics. Understandably most of the films have been pretty heavy handed, and just as understandably, audiences have been satiating those taste buds with other, less controversial and subjects. But then comes along The Lucky Ones, starring Tim Robbins, Michael Pena, and Rachael McAdams. The film is about 3 soldiers returning home from Iraq; two on leave for 30 days, the other out for good. Instead of sticking to the usual downbeat tones of other Iraq films, it's more of a hopeful charmer and quite a funny one too. It's really more of a good old fashioned American road movie with soldiers than a war movie. But that didn't stop people from not going. The film got only limited release through 2008, despite gaining fans on the festival circuit.

    Three soldiers return home from Iraq after meeting each other on the plane ride. When they arrive on American soil to catch their connecting flights, they discover that the airport is backed up solid due to a black out. Rather than wait around, Cheaver (Robbins) decides he's close enough to his home in St. Louis to rent a car and drive. TK and Colee (Pena and McAdams) decide they should join him. They're both heading to Las Vegas and figure they can probably make the drive and catch a flight out of St. Louis by the time they would here.

    Colee is heading to Vegas to return her boyfriend's vintage guitar to his family. He died in the war. TK is heading to Vegas for some professional help before he meets up with his fiancé. Hookers and strippers? Colee inquires. Kind of - but not for the usual reasons. You see, they all have wounds, but some more sensitive than others. Cheaver injured his back in a not so heroic way, but he's more amused and relieved about it than embarrassed. Colee's been shot in the leg, and sports an unhealed wound and a limp. TK gets the best of both their worlds: he's been wounded by shrapnel in a not so public area. Now, as he says, it doesn't work right. He's going to Vegas to meet with some "professionals" to test his own little soldier out. "I can't go back to my fiancé without knowing it works, we'd have nothing to talk about!" A strange predicament for two people about to be married.

    Cheaver, being the oldest in his 40s, is usually something of a father figure to the younger TK and Colee. On their trip those two first bicker before becoming closer. Colee openly talks about her late ex, and tells the tales he told her of robbing a Casino in Vegas to pay off his loan shark debts. TK responds with coldness and ridicules the dead man for his character. It results, inevitably in having to pull over and the keys inevitably being locked in the car.

    The Lucky One's certainly doesn't go anywhere we really don't expect it to, but the paths it takes to get there aren't necessarily always the one's we expect. For example, given how quickly the trio arrive in St. Louis, it's obvious something will have to happen to keep it going. It's no big surprise to reveal that his wife wants a divorce, though she apparently is not cheating on him. Meanwhile their son breaks the big news that he got into Stanford, but needs 20 grand to secure his spot. So Cheaver decides he'll go to visit his brother or maybe even go to Vegas and win the money. That guitar Colee carries around is actually even worth 20 grand, though he doesn't want it, and she has to give it to her dead boyfriends family. She wants to give it to him but obviously knows she can't, although what she knows about her dead boyfriend seems to be less and less as time goes on.

    The movie is populated with the usual oddball characters and chance encounters you find on cross country road trips, or in cross country road trip movies. There's a stop over at a church where they meet a very wealthy parishioner who invites them to a party, where among other things they encounter a young man against the war, another man who thinks after meeting the trio there's a good reason why they're losing the war, and a horny wife with the hots for the old Cheaver. Elsewhere they encounter the usual road side bars and motels, traveling sex workers and a rogue Tornado. And of course, along the way each confronts their own issues and demons.

    The Lucky Ones is a funny and winning little movie. It's above all else a very human movie. The characters are what makes it succeed, not it's story. All three leads give wonderful and sincere performances, particularly McAdams as Colee. She's naive but not unintelligent, and tough but still vulnerable.

    What could have been a downer filled with cheap shots and cheap tactics is instead smart and even handed, and above all respectful. That's not to say that it's necessarily a "safe" movie - but then again a movie that's best described as a road comedy about Iraq Veterans probably cannot be. It's above all else a very human movie. The characters are what makes it succeed, not it's story. All three leads give wonderful and sincere performances, particularly McAdams as Colee. She's naive but not unintelligent, and tough but still vulnerable. The movie ends as the soldiers' leave expires and they must return. At least for now they've been the lucky ones. Here's to hoping they stayed lucky.
  • moviewaffle13 March 2009
    I'd never heard of Neil Burger's "The Lucky Ones" until a friend recommended it to me after catching it on a flight to Australia. Released in theatres stateside last year, it was pulled after making a paltry $267,000 in its opening week. This is a hell of a shame as what we have here is the first great movie about the Iraq war. Three soldiers return to the states on leave and through circumstances end up on a road trip to Vegas. Michael Pena is a cocky Sargeant with a wound in his manhood, struggling to come to terms with how his Fiancé will react to his impotence. Tim Robbins is a veteran trying to find the money to send his kid to college and thus stop him enlisting. But the standout performance, and quite possibly the standout performance of the past year full stop, comes from Rachel McAdams as a naive private returning her dead boyfriends guitar to his family. Her turn here is far superior to anything Oscar nominated this year and probably the best from an American actress since Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. The films strongest point is its lack of a "message". Pro war or Anti war, you'll find your own point of view here and Burger is subtle enough to allow you the privilege. I won't give it away but this has a great ambiguous seventies style ending, just the way I like 'em. It's always a good sign when a movie ends and you wish you could get to see more of the characters, and it's an all too rare occurrence in modern cinema. For this Burger and his cast should be applauded.
  • (Synopsis) After recovering from their wounds in the Iraq War, three soldiers are sent back to the United States. Sgt. T.K. Poole (Michael Pena) and Pvt. Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams) are given a 30-day leave, and Sgt. Fred Cheever (Tim Robbins) is retiring. The three soldiers now have a new mission. T.K is going home to visit his fiancée, Colee is going to return a guitar to the family of the man who saved her life, and Fred is going home to his wife in St. Louis. When they arrive at JFK Airport in New York, all fights have been canceled, because of a blackout. The three decide to rent a van and drive to St. Louis, and once there, T.K. and Colee can catch a plane to Las Vegas. What started out to be a short 14 hour trip ends up being a journey across America. Along the way, the three soldiers who had just met at JFK, become close friends.

    (My Comment) This is a human interest story that explores the interpersonal aspects that war has on our soldiers, especially the ones who are injured as they return home. We learn the pitfalls of returning to this country where our soldiers are only given a token "Thank You" platitude from the public. We also see how three soldiers band together, and become in a sense a family taking care of one another. The film gives enough time in the character development of each soldier that we begin to like each soldier, and you wouldn't mind making them your friends. Their cross-county road trip is full of foolish misadventures that are memorable. For the most part, the film is serious to a point, yet it is also a comedy. I believe this small film will be one of those sleeper movies that the public will like, and it could be a hit. (QED International, Run Time 1:55, Rated R) (8/10)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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 more 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Do you feel lucky? The lucky ones sure do. Who are the lucky ones? Rachel Adams, Tim Robbins, and Michael Pena star lighthearted road movie about three injury soldiers on the way back from duty, trying to head home across America. They are forced to drive together in a car, due to sudden black out forces all flights out of New York to be canceled. Each one has a purpose to get home, but on the way, the journey turns into self-discovery as all of them, learn a little bit more of themselves and each other through laughter and hardship. Tim Robbins is Cheaver--- a middle age soldier with a broken back who come back to a broken home- full of a wife who wants a divorce and a son who needs $20,000 for college. Rachel Adams is Colee who lost her friend and wants to find his family in order to return his guitar and live with them since she's lost any ties with her own. Last is Michael Pena whom is TK who suffered a wound that has made him impotent trying to go to Las Vegas for treatment. Each character has it faults and charms. It's really funny and intelligent— but there are scenes that make you questions what message are they trying to show. There are hints of anti-war messages, while addressing the pros and cons of army life but all three understand their life in duties in the armed forces. -Three strong performances from three solid actors. A great watch in and out. Check it out
  • This is one of the funniest movies about serious topics, and I thought the acting was excellent. Almost every scene in the film has the three main actors in it, and the dynamic between them is fun to watch. The three soldiers coming home on leave find themselves stuck together, and a road trip adventure ensues. The circumstances they get into tell us a lot about the characters, and each scene gives more depth to the individuals and the relationships that develop. I really liked all three main characters even with their flaws.

    I laughed more during this movie than I usually do during comedies so I guess that means it has my kind of humor. Unlike the review by "Super and Mik", I didn't think it was slow or the ending at all predictable. I thought the plot was engaging. I rated the movie 9 out of 10 stars, but I'm not sure what could have made it a ten. It's well written with a balance between comedy and drama. It's perfectly cast, and I also liked the directing and attention to detail. I highly recommend this flick. I don't understand why it flopped at the box office.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had tickets for this at the Toronto International Film Festival last summer but was side-tracked by an obscure little film called Slumdog Millionaire instead, so only got around to watching it last night on pay-per-view. In a strange way, the two films have a good deal in common. In an era in which everyone seems to want either tense thrillers, puerile comedies or awesome special effects (the only one here, as has been pointed out, is a cheaply put together tornado), both movies offer little more than a thoroughly improbable plot and a focus on character development. But both work remarkably well. I am puzzled by those who found that the movie dragged. While most of the plot development was telegraphed not once but several times, the acting from all three leads was both believable and very deft. At first I thought that Rachel McAdams' character was simply too naive to be true but it soon became apparent that she was much wiser than we (or even she) knew. She plays it beautifully. Tim Robbins is wonderful too, and rather pathetic, in a down-to-earth role as an aging war veteran, happy to have survived and soon to be confronted with some harsh realities. But Michael Pena was the real surprise. He is completely captivating in his portrayal of a proud young vet from a military family on his way to meet his girlfriend, with his masculinity compromised by a war injury. His character is the most subtly poignant as he confronts his own fears about his manhood, on several levels.

    Like all movies based on the Iraqi war, this seems to suffer from America's desire to ignore the war altogether, just as they ignored the Vietnam veterans a generation ago (Coming Home, The Deer Hunter). America seems to be much less willing to address its failures now than it was then, or even the lesser failures in the wake of World War II.
  • benbree2 August 2009
    This is excellent. This movie is a great example of how those in the military take care on one another. After my five years of military service as a Marine, I have found no other organization that works so well. This was a great example of how we (those in the military) get it done each and every day. It also illustrates that in the military we learn to work with both men and women and all colors. It is a simple matter of what is required to get the job done. Thanks for a good example of life in and out of the military.

    The characters were true to form and based on my experience showed the way it really is as one tries to adapt and adjust to live after returning from a deployment. It was so smart to include a woman and to write the lines in such a way to show that she was an equal. While only a newbie to the military, she demonstrated life experiences and knowledge that helped the more senior members of the cast. A great job of balancing and showing that life experiences help those in the military deal with situations.

    I do not think I can say enough how much I enjoyed watching this movie and experiences the life of military members through the characters in this film. Again, great job!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Written and directed by Neil Burger, "The Lucky Ones" tells the story of three United States Army soldiers who return from the 2003 US invasion of Iraq to embark on an unplanned road trip across the United States. The film is a fairly faithful update of William Wyler's "The Best Years of Our Lives" and Hal Ashby's "The Last Detail", though Burger claims never to have seen the former film.

    Like Wyler's film, which was also ironically titled, "The Lucky Ones" centres on three servicemen of different social strata, rank and age. There's Sgt Cheaver (Tim Robbins), who's wrestling with a divorce and financial problems, Pvt Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams), who's struggling to cope with a wounded leg, poverty and isolation, and Sgt Poole (Michael Pena), whose sex organs have been severely damaged by a piece of shrapnel.

    There's a lot of good stuff in the film. Burger's direction is gentle, easygoing and relaxed, our trio of characters are both likable and pleasantly low-key, the gang's road trip is immensely fun and the film features a number of fine conversations. Unfortunately "The Lucky Ones" also contains a number of absolutely god-awful scenes which totally kill the picture. Such heavy handed atrocities – scenes which would embarrass most writers - include a sudden marital break-up, an out-of-nowhere argument over a locked car, a ridiculous car crash and a LITERAL TORNADO ATTACK. Half this movie is a masterpiece of low key observation, the other half is an embarrassment. What's going on?

    Still, mentally filter out these terrible moments and the film has a lot to recommend. Burger positions us to sympathise with these soldiers, shows how the army exploits minorities and the marginalised, how each of these characters has absolutely no place to go, no one to take them in but the Armed Forces, how the military engenders dependency, how enlistees treat income and institutional connection as a bigger priority than the larger ethical and political ramifications of War, how the Army neuters ideological conflict (within its staff), how civilians (on either end of the political spectrum) condescendingly treat soldiers, how the military experience is completely divorced from the every-day reality of most Americans, how soldiers oft return home to a kind of soft segregation, how the soldiering class is almost a class unto itself, often unable to mingle comfortably with others, how the army compensates for weak egos and becomes an almost cultic figure for the disenfranchised etc etc. This is an unusually perceptive film. But a frustrating one too, because for every good sequence there's an abomination which makes you want to gouge your eyes out.

    7.9/10 – Frustrating.
  • Here you have three people, no dramatic problems, stuck in an airport. They, strangers to each other, join in a trip across from the East to the Midwest. Ho hum. Oh, wait, Tim Robbins is in it, OK, give it 6 minutes. Then, this believable trio display the best part of human life...empathy. You fantasize, in somber spirit, that humans are like these three. The movie comes to a quiet, completed end, and you love each character and find yourself hoping they have a good life, because they are no longer Tim Robbins, Mike Pena, and Rachel McAdams, the actors. The "public" that they navigate around seem always insincere with their 'thank you for serving', although in real life, past returning veterans were treated with total disdain. The scene in jail and the phony confession to a robbery seemed...not quite honest or believable, but it was the only weak scene.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Lucky Ones was a great idea for a film. A road movie about three soldiers on leave, played my Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Pena. When these three soldiers - who are initially strangers - end up on a plane together (and eventually a rental car due to the grounding of planes) they're forced to spend time together, limping and driving across the country, battle scars everywhere.

    Directed by Neil Burger, known mostly for 2006's decent enough The Illusionist, The Lucky Ones feels like the work of a filmmaker who has ended up far out of his league. He seems to make some good decisions here and there (the film is well cast and the concept is strong), but, for a $14 million dollar film with three great leads, The Lucky Ones is a major disappointment. For starters, cinematographer Declan Quinn (In America, Rachel Getting Married, Leaving Las Vegas, Monsoon Wedding, etc.) doesn't give this film a $14 million dollar look. In fact, after a few scenes I got excited, thinking that this might be a true indie film with a tiny budget. It's not. And, unless Burger paid his stars big bucks, I can't figure out where the $14 million went - there's nothing in this film that should've cost much more than a Joe Swanberg or Andrew Bujalski film.

    And while that might seem like a petty complaint (seeing as how most movie watchers don't analyze such things), let me also take this opportunity to point out how sad it is to see Burger, who also wrote the film, waste away a great story idea. Three unconnected modern day soldiers end up stuck in a car together, crossing the country? How can you mess that up?! Especially when you have McAdams, Robbins, Pena and Quinn on your team? Burger finds a way.

    All that said, there are some enjoyable moments in this pedestrian piece of film art. Whenever the trio pass any sort of landmark or tourist trap, McAdams' character begs to stop, the other two denying her. They three all wake up at night with night terrors. We even get to see the endlessly soft-and-sweet McAdams start a fight at a college bar in southern Indiana where she's eventually backed up by her new solider pals. It could've been a classic moment. Unfortunately, it's not memorable and hardly believable, no matter how convincingly muscular McAdams' jaw and shoulders are. Robbins' and Pena's performances are strong throughout and McAdams' face continues to be the best screen face of her time. But, aside from these minor points, The Lucky Ones is a disappointment. Soldiers are, by average, living the most storyteller-worthy lives of any Americans right now, and this is all Berger can come up with? A bar fight and night terrors? Needless to say, this isn't a very deep or thoughtful film. The end - which I'm sure Burger thinks is incredibly thoughtful and unexpected - wraps things up nicely, of course. Don't things always wrap up nicely for soldiers?

    And the use of music? Ugh. Berger offers a selection of super obvious hipster picks mixed in with a score so cheesy that you have to doubt the vision of the director. F'real; it's that bad. Does the guy who likes this awful score really like all of this great indie music, or is he just trying to be hip? That's the question.

    I could go on, but why bother. Burger, who with The Illusionist became a director to watch, has become, with The Lucky Ones, a director who is going to have to fight for jobs, stars and production budgets. The classic case of an over-hyped auteur blowing their big break.
  • I sat down to this film not knowing anything beyond what the trailer depicted...and I had only a vague memory of that. Is it a drama, a comedy, a what...? I can honestly say that I think the answer is yes. To all. It's the most honest, solid, watchable film I've seen in a long time. Nothing seemed forced, gratuitous, or pandering... it's just a well told, and acted, human story. Neither a magical, nor let-down ending...unless one would count "I wish more films could be made this well" as a let down.

    So, that's my opinion, which doesn't mean much...unless you are like me, and enjoy the quality of a film more than the franchise future possibilities of one.
  • See this film.

    "The Lucky Ones" (2008) is a true hidden gem. I wasn't expecting much when I put the DVD in my player but before too long I knew I had stumbled on to something great.

    THE PLOT: Three soldiers coming back from Iraq meet at JFK in NY where all flights are delayed due to a blackout. One soldier is older and getting out of the Army for good (Timothy Robbins), one has a serious groin injury and is trying to heal-up (Michael Pena) and the other is on leave to visit the family of a dead comrade (Rachel McAdams). They end up in a rental vehicle traveling across the country where they experience many sides of American culture and each other's deepest secrets, hopes and pains.

    All three stars have great chemistry and Rachel McAdams (who I've never seen in a movie before) is a total revelation as Colee. Although Colee isn't highly educated she's not dumb. In fact, she excels socially and is the catalyst to hope and healing for the other two. A more beautiful, spunky, stimulating woman could hardly be found!

    Both Timothy Robbins as Cheaver and Michael Pena as TK shine in their roles as well. Cheaver becomes the necessary father-figure in the trio and the others become increasingly concerned about the well-being of their temporary "dad."

    The film features a good balance of Eastern and Western locations, shot in Illinois, Missouri, Colorado and Las Vegas.

    FINAL WORD: I don't want to say anymore. If what I said perks your interest, be sure to check out "The Lucky Ones."

    RUNTIME: 115 minutes

    GRADE: A
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I wasn't sure if I liked "The Lucky Ones" from the opening moments - it seemed a little implausible and contrived, but over the runtime the movie settled into some interesting character development and story. I liked the directors willingness to keep it low-key and quirky. (spoiler) One of the better scenes in the movie was the party, where we finally listen to some serious conversation and reflection on the current wars. The dialog is well written here, as you start to see the unwarranted and sneering ridicule that comes out misdirected at US Servicemen. The detractor/anti-war character in the conversation demonstrates the idiocy of protesting a war to people in the service. The actors all do good jobs, and by the end the eventuality doesn't seem surprising but highly fitting. Good movie.
  • ShawnBalint8 December 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    Well this movie could have been so much more. The trailers featured the emotional "I will remember you" but the movie, apparently adjusted to growing indifference to the Iraq War by many, was afraid to let you care too much. I was really disappointed to see what happened with this film. I did a little bit of extra work (was cut from the guitar scene at last minute) on this film and it never even showed in Edwardsville, Illinois (near ST. Louis) where "Denver" scenes were filmed.

    I couldn't disagree more about Rachel MacAdams character. As an actress her job is reflect reality and some of the people who turn to the military in rural small town America where often times jobs were hard to come by before the economic meltdown. Someone from Colee's background probably wouldn't talk like someone Harvard bound, coming from a broken home etc. She brilliantly portrayed someone who refused to be held down by the life she was born into, was highly inquisitive, caring, supportive. She was a beautiful person, a great character that Rachel brought life to. She wasn't intelligent, but she wasn't dumb if you can wrap your mind about that. I thought she turned in a tremendous performance that too few people saw. I also bet there were tremendous moments left on the cutting room floor. I really thought many aspects of her performance were Oscar quality.

    Oh gee and Tim Robbins isn't the first actor to have political views. He's a professional and I didn't see an overwhelming agenda in his role. He seemed to focus on telling a story about what happens to these people when they return home.

    Michael Pena continues to be an underrated talent.

    I give the George Lucas stale raspberry award for bad CGI moments to the crew for including a stupid tornado scene that looked like it came from the Buster Keaton era. They did a much better job in '39 with the Wizard of Oz! I wonder if this film will be "put back together" with the DVD.
  • Actually, two parts from the trailer were missing from the movie. Ebert alluded that this movie could have a semblance of "The Best Years of Our Lives." Don't believe it! Rachel McAdams appeared to be a female Forrest Gump and Tim Robbins was trying to replay Andy DuFresne. The twister scene was the low point. See better twisters in the Wizard of Oz.

    Time passed slowly in the movie theatre of 3 people.

    Sorry, I hoped for better because it would have been nice to see the Best Years updated. Fredric March, Harold Russell and Dana Andrews, your performances still rule!
  • So I made the trip out to one of the limited theaters showing "The Lucky Ones" which I wanted to see because of the cast. The acting is fine but the film looks and feels rather low budget. While the cast did a good job with the performances, they would have appeared better had the film been directed and edited better. I suspect it was more the director issue and that the editor did not have much "coverage" on each seen to cut any better. Many of the pivotal scenes for each character do not pay off (especially early scenes) as tension did not build. The action or reaction to the circumstances seems to play out slow. Most of the movie has limited camera angles and cuts. Added to this is the fact that music is not used much in the film (maybe budget did not allow for it) and this may be one of the reasons many scenes lack impact. The story was mediocre. It tried to give depth and layers to the characters but seems shortened. Finally, some scenes appear grainy as though shot in 16mm.

    All this said, the performances of the three leads were good and are enough to win you over and leave you feeling as though you saw a decent low budget film. Far from a great film (I would not travel too far to see it) but its worth a view especially if you wait till DVD.
  • Kind of a road picture for soldiers home from the Iraqi front, I don't think writer/director Neil Burger intends to make an antiwar statement... but pretty much any human being with a heart will take it as such. The quote above, "No, thank YOU," occurs at several points in the story as these three soldiers, on leave—Fred Cheaver (Tim Robbins), T.K. Poole (Michael Peña), and Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams)—make their way across the US. What happens is they have a transaction with a civilian who learns they're from the front, and the soldier will say thank you to end the exchange, to which the civilian will say, "No, thank YOU." With emphasis, expressing the fairly common sentiment that we have toward those in uniform.


    For my complete review of this movie and for other movie and book reviews, please visit my site

    Brian Wright Copyright 2009
  • georgemilojevic17 December 2012
    there is no comedy in this movie, there is no war but war related, drama maybe but not really. its mostly a road trip movie. That on the side, movie itself is so so. main characters are well developed and acted out. they are well portrait as in a mix mash of 3 completely different "types" of soldiers. any other characters involved are pale and not worth mentioning. But that's it for me. Nothing else i found interesting or special about this flick. It is straight forward 90minutes of conversations and couple of situations they run into on the trip. camera work and directing don't bring much to it either. shots of states nature side fill in some blanks but all in all i forget pretty much everything but the characters after movie ended. all in all not a complete waste of time but not really entertaining or emotionally moving. 5/10 is plenty comparing to 7/10 at the moment.
  • After being a huge fan of Neil Burger's first big movie, The Illusionist, I was very intrigued in seeing his next film. With an interesting cast of Michael Pena, Rachel McAdams, and Tim Robbins, I was very interest in seeing how the chemistry of these three would be together. They were very good.

    We have the older vet, Fred Cheaver (Tim Robbins), who just wants to go home and enjoy his remaining years with his wife and son. T.K. Pool (Michael Pena) got wounded in his private area and is afraid he can't 'get it up' with his girl where the relationship is apparently based on sex. And then we have Colee Dunn. She's the outgoing outsider with a broken family but means well with attempting to bring a guitar to a family she doesn't know where her friend and their son was killed in combat. She expects to live with them.

    The chemistry between the main leads are very good (especially Rachel McAdams). They don't have a ego problem as you might see in most post war movies (see Stop-Loss). I believe Burger's biggest point was to demonstrate the bond the the army has on each other and how they would go to big lengths to make sure one another is OK and safe while of course testing one another with impossible questions. T.K. didn't like Colee's deceased friend Randy even though he never knew him. Randy robbed a casino according to Colee and T.K. felt that's what the military doesn't want. Soldiers escaping their problems. Fred would always be there to babysit the two if any issues between the two would get out of hand but the truth is, the three of them loved each other.

    This film has no comparison to the very special "The Illusionist" but that is a very good thing. Variety seems to be an issue for a good portion of new coming directors in this new century. Neil Burger relied on a tight script and painted characters with ridiculous recurrences and run ins that made you one again understand why it was called 'The Lucky Ones.' My favorite was when Fred went to see his wife, she nonchalantly asked for a divorce. Moments later his son came home and said he needed tens of thousands of dollars to get into Stanford. After Fred went back out with his friends to relieve some tension, he ran into an old friend that he worked with who explained that the company that Fred and him worked for was out of business obviously meaning that Fred had no job and really no way of giving money to his son at the time.

    Solid film and lots of problems bit it saved by very good chemistry and performances.
  • After watching the trailer for this movie, my wife and I were interested in seeing it and jumped at the chance to go to a free, advance screening.

    During the movie, it kind of felt like the story was going somewhere and even though it was fairly slow, I was interested. Then the movie ended, and it felt like nothing had happened at all. Despite the decent acting and the initial promise of the story line, the ending to the movie just made it feel like we had wasted two hours of our life.

    My wife also hated the way Rachael McAdams character was written. She said that she thought her character was written to be the stereo-typical sad, unintelligent woman.

    I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone, unless you need somewhere to go to take a nap for about 2 hours.
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