The Lucky Ones

(2008) ** R
115 min. Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions. Director: Neil Burger. Cast: Rachel McAdams, Michael Pena, Tim Robbins, Spencer Garrett, Molly Hagen.

/content/films/3226/2.jpgOff the bat, I have to concede that The Lucky Ones is ridiculous, dependent as it is on wacky coincidence (a.k.a. contrivance). But as a comic fable, it does warmly and with good humor dramatize the absurdity of the 21st century soldier’s life. Equally important is director and co-writer Neil Burger’s ability to make us care about the three central characters as if they were our own family. Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Pena deliver charismatic performances as three soldiers recently returned from Iraq. The younger two expect to ship back soon, while Robbins’ character looks forward to his retirement. But each faces a serious issue: one lacks a family to return to, one returns to a disloyal mate, and one is in need of sexual healing after a Hemingway-esque wound. The annoyance of its Screenwriting 101 script is hard to overcome, but The Lucky Ones just about works in spite of itself, as an actor’s showcase.

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