It's hard to say bad things about a movie this well-intentioned and sweet. It's a story about Iraq War soldiers that is heartwarming and funny, which is something we haven't seen much in films about the current war. I have no idea why the trailer for The Lucky Ones includes Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You," a song practically engineered to force people to cry, because this movie isn't really sad. I brought tissues and I didn't even use them.
Rachel McAdams is the biggest reason to see this, as her character is so incredibly endearing and McAdams portrays her perfectly. She plays Colee, a young soldier on a 30-day leave from Iraq after a gunshot wound to the leg. Colee is an (extremely) open book, blunt to a fault and full of wide-eyed, childlike naiveté. Tim Robbins is career soldier Cheever who is leaving the Army for good after suffering a back injury. Michael Pena plays TK, a bit of an insufferable know-it-all whose "private parts" are not quite back to normal after being wounded. The three are stranded in New York when they land and discover that all flights have been canceled. There is one rental car available to them at the airport, and thus the three embark on a road trip together. Nothing — seriously, nothing — goes as planned, however, and challenges pop up for these characters faster than a whack-a-mole game. This bombardment of predicaments is both funny and problematic, though, so to find out more, read more.
Each character's storyline includes some kind of obstacle (or obstacles), and over the course of their shared trip a staggering number of new obstacles present themselves. This demands some powerful suspension of disbelief, and at times the plot is like a brainstorming game between friends on their own road trip ("And then all the flights out of New York will be canceled, and then two of them will fight and the old guy's wife wants a divorce but his son needs college money like, right now, so the three head to Vegas, but along the way they stop off at a bar so the girl can get into a fight, and then there's a car crash and — ooh! I know! — a tornado!" and on and on).
Some of these things are totally preposterous (do college loans not exist in this world?), but it's not necessarily a random, rambling course of events. Much of what happens feeds our understanding of each character and many of their conversations are recalled in some way later in the story. Like the words "luck" and "lucky," which they repeat about 20 times in the movie. The occasional triteness aside, it's a rewarding experience to watch this movie, as you can consistently identify references to previous things. All in all, it's a flawed script that's saved by some great performances and a sweet dynamic between these unlikely friends.
Photos courtesy of Roadside Attractions