'The Lucky Ones': Suspiciously Serendipitous

Tim Robbins i

Cheaver (Tim Robbins) just wants to be reunited with his wife and son after a tour of duty in Iraq, but a twist of fate sends him on a cross-country journey instead. James Bridges/Lionsgate hide caption

itoggle caption James Bridges/Lionsgate
Tim Robbins

Cheaver (Tim Robbins) just wants to be reunited with his wife and son after a tour of duty in Iraq, but a twist of fate sends him on a cross-country journey instead.

James Bridges/Lionsgate

The Lucky Ones

  • Director: Neil Burger
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama
  • Running Time: 115 minutes

Rated R for language and some sexual content.

Michael Pena and Rachel McAdams i

Back to reality: TK (Michael Pena) and Colee (Rachel McAdams) must grapple with losses they suffered in Iraq. James Bridges/Lionsgate hide caption

itoggle caption James Bridges/Lionsgate
Michael Pena and Rachel McAdams

Back to reality: TK (Michael Pena) and Colee (Rachel McAdams) must grapple with losses they suffered in Iraq.

James Bridges/Lionsgate

What is it about the Iraq war that's led so many filmmakers to send their stars on road trips?

Consider: Stop Loss traveled the highways with war hero Ryan Phillippe, who thought he shouldn't be sent back when his tour was finished.

John Cusack took his two young daughters on a field trip in Grace Is Gone, so as to avoid telling them their mom had been killed in action. And Tommy Lee Jones hit the road in In The Valley of Elah, determined to find out what happened to his serviceman son.

Now, in The Lucky Ones, returning soldiers Tim Robbins, Michael Pena and Rachel McAdams rent a car and trek cross-county on a trip establishing that while they were in Iraq, life has gone on without them.

Cheaver (Robbins) has finished his tour of duty and can't wait to be reunited with his wife and son. TK (Pena), sexually sidelined by shrapnel, is hoping the practiced techniques of a Las Vegas prostitute can put him back in the game before he gets together with his fiancee. And naive Colee (McAdams) fantasizes that she'll be embraced as family when she delivers her dead boyfriend's guitar to his parents.

Plans go awry early and often in a picture that brings the three together with a massive East Coast power outage, then sends them off to pursue a barroom catfight, a visit to a megachurch that leads to silly sex comedy and an entirely implausible plot twist involving a twister.

Director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) keeps things light, and the actors are more than engaging as they put their characters through familiar paces. But there's something centrally pat and predictable about the coincidence-laden story, and by the time they get to Vegas, The Lucky Ones has been all but done in by a surfeit of serendipity.

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