5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


"No, thank you."

What a perfect way to spin to the other side of an idea, and what a perfect line to sum up Neil Burger's, The Lucky Ones. It's a simple movie, filled to the brim with heart, humor, and, if you can spot it, poetry.

The Lucky Ones tells the story of three soldiers on medical leave from the war: Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams), Fred Cheaver (Tim Robbins), and T.K. Poole (Michael Peña). When JFK Airport is shut down due to blackouts, Cheaver offers to drive Colee and T.K. back to his hometown of Louisville, so they can catch a flight out of there. When the drive ends up continuing to Las Vegas, the rest is a fantastically acted story of three "lucky" strangers.

This movie is really interesting. We are presented with three very realistic characters who play so well off of each other, that it almost doesn't seem like a burden to watch them interact for a cross-country drive; it's a treat. They're all so dependent on each other - not overtly, but subtly, and that's what makes it great. The movie is definitely anti-war, but other than that, there is nothing really "in-your-face", thematically. You simply get to sit back, and enjoy watching these characters grow on this journey. Each has a backstory that is very well developed, and, unlike most roadtrip films, you don't watch them do things, but you watch things affect them.

All of the acting here is phenomenal. The real shining star of this movie is Rachel McAdams. This is easily my favorite character she has played thus far, though that may be because this is the best overall film she has appeared in yet. Wedding Crashers is of course, a delightful romantic comedy, but the real depth of her acting ability can be seen in this movie. Having already given a great performance in Red Eye, she has built on it, and I seriously believe she is on her way to being considered one of our time's great actresses. I love how much delight she seems to be taking in playing Colee. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, but a good hearted, warm, and often times very funny girl. I'm glad that she has finally gotten a chance to show what she is capable of.

Tim Robbins of course, is fantastic. He has this way about him, where you really don't feel like he's acting. His story was definitely the most heart-wrenching, and he plays it beautifully. You can take one look into his sorrowful eyes, and feel for him. Robbins is one of those actors that just forces empathy upon you. And, while Peña's character is a bit prickly at first, you still get the feeling that he is a good guy, and in the end he has found his way into your heart with McAdams and Robbins.

After the wonderful The Illusionist, Burger has proven to me that he is a name to watch out for. He seems to be on a streak of greatness, and I can't wait for whatever else he has in store for me.

In the end, this movie is what Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and, from the looks of it, Observe and Report want to be.

Hollywood has finally made a movie with an independent feel to it that still has depth and meaning. Movies are about people, not events, not explosions, not transformers. People guide your story. And of course, there are two sides to every story. In life, things happen, and we can place that on chance, or we can place it on luck. But what really matters is that we understand that there is always another side to chance or luck, one that may not be so obvious at first.

4 stars

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