Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Lucky Ones

"The Lucky Ones" is a calculated screenplay of a film, predictable, mildly surprising at best, pretty awful at worst. It's about the coming home of three soldiers, two on thirty day leave, one permanently. It sets these three into obvious and at times over-the-top situations, and we are subjected to bad acting, dialogue, and editing for the duration of roughly two hours. Tim Robbins is a respectable actor, so how did he get attached to such an off-peak film? He plays the elder statesman, who gets home and within minutes is back on the road, barreling away from a wife who's threatening divorce and a kid who's bound for Stanford but can't make up the $20,000 he needs to supplement his scholarship. It's an affable, no-show performance that isn't Robbins' best work. Rachel McAdams and Michael Pena, neither of which I very much like as actors, step up as the younger soldiers. McAdams is as a gung ho, devout Christian who's smitten with some sort of folk hero whose guitar supposedly belongs to Elvis and who robbed some sort of tiny casino. Pena is a subtle man who's wounded in his sex organs and who talks about skills so much, he nearly puts Napoleon Dynamite to shame. These types are in one car, providing for some melodramatic incidents and other shenanigans, including Hummer product placement and a CGI tornado. Neil Burger, who made the fantastical film "The Illusionist," comes up very short here, especially in terms of screenwriting. He may have been aiming for a mix of satire and middlebrow humor, but he just ended up with a handful of recurring, unfunny patriotic jokes and such. My least favorite bits had to do with the music and the episodic, meaningless editing. The score, by the experienced Rolfe Kent, is no Philip Glass and forces a tone not relevant enough. It only reinforces the fact that this film is pretty unnecessary. Naomi Geraghty, previously associated with the wonderful "In America" which I recall had very good editing, has such a weak hand here that everything scurries along, with no time to consider what just happened. "The Lucky Ones" doesn't seem to be one of those contemplative movies at all. I really don't know why it was made. It's a screenplay, not a film. C-

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