According to The Lucky Ones, what injured, battle-scarred Iraq war vets need upon returning to native soil isn’t physical therapy, psychological counseling or a home-cooked meal; rather, they just need a wacky cross-country road trip full of crazy misadventures. Neil Burger’s fictional drama about three vets back in the U.S.A.—two on 30-day leave, one for good—argues that, per its tagline, “sometimes losing your way home means finding yourself.” Sometimes, however, empty, contrived fantasies are just empty, contrived fantasies, as is certainly the case with this embarrassingly phony cross between Grace Is Gone, Home of the Brave and—believe it or not—Twister, since one of the key sequences in this fiasco involves soldiers Colee (Rachel McAdams) and TK (Michael Peña) taking refuge in a giant pipe to avoid an appearing-out-of-nowhere tornado. Better still, by huddling close together, Colee gives TK an erection, something he hasn’t had since taking some shrapnel in the crotch. Given the omnipresent corniness, TK’s impotence naturally extends to his emotional well-being, as well as that of Colee and happily retired Cheever (Tim Robbins), the three all wracked by sorrow, anger and aimlessness in a land that (aside from citizens’ token “Thank you” platitudes) now seems to have no use for them. Burger and co-screenwriter Dirk Wittenborn rebuff realism to the point of defiance, reducing their characters’ internal states to a series of defining Big Issues that get rectified through wacky and/or bathos-laden scenarios. After finding out that his wife no longer wants him around, Cheever unexpectedly winds up in the middle of a three-way at a wealthy gent’s mansion, TK almost has his dysfunctional cock fixed by a trio of friendly whores traveling around in a camper, and Colee finds out that the guitar of her dead ex-boyfriend—which she’s bringing back to his family, in the hope that they’ll take her in—is worth a pretty penny. Worth absolutely nothing, however, is the film’s take on the plight of returning vets, which is so embarrassingly reductive that it actually manages to further reduce the already-pitiful reputation of domestic Iraq war-related cinema.
- 113 min
- Neil Burger
- Neil Burger, Dirk Wittenborn
- Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins, Michael Peña
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