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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Just Lucky to Be Here

    “The Lucky Ones” is an ironic title for a sincere little film with lots of heart.

    Starring Tim Robbins (“Mystic River”), Rachel McAdams (“Wedding Crashers”) and Michael Pena (“Crash” [2005]), this moving and funny indie flick managed to cruise under the radar when it was released last year. It was shown at the Staller Center on Feb. 6 as part of the center’s spring film series.

    “The Lucky Ones” deals with three soldiers coming home from Iraq for various reasons. Robbins, McAdams and Pena’s characters all meet on an airplane headed to JFK Airport from Germany.

    Fred Cheaver (Robbins) is a middle-aged reservist done with his tour of duty after getting injured in a noncombat-related accident. He is looking forward to seeing his wife and teenage son again after two years away.

    Colee Dunn (McAdams) is a Polyanna-type who means well but isn’t so bright. She and T.K. Poole (Pena) are both on 30 days’ leave after getting injured, and both happen to be headed to Las Vegas.

    The three soldiers land in New York just after the massive blackout in the summer of 2003. Their connecting flights are canceled and they nearly miss getting a rental car. They decide they will drive out with Cheaver, whose family lives in St. Louis, and Colee and T.K. will fly from there.

    From here on out, the film takes audiences out on a road trip, combining sprawling views of American cities and landscapes with the characters’ first few attempts to get to know one other.

    As they make their way further into the Midwest, Cheaver, Colee and T.K. get to know each other more and more. Colee tells them about her friend Randy, who saved her life only to die and leave her his guitar. Colee and Cheaver learn that T.K. was wounded in the groin and worries that he may no longer be able to perform in bed.

    In St. Louis, Cheaver has his own mess to deal with when he learns that his old job is gone, his wife wants a divorce, and his son needs $20,000 so he can go to Stanford University in the fall.

    Cheaver’s new friends, however, don’t let him down, and all three go on together to Vegas.

    The film is shot in a simple, yet beautiful style, and Robbins, McAdams and Pena all deliver understated but powerful performances.

    Humor is incorporated into the film in a way that does not distract from the real-life dramas the characters must go through in their travels.

    Throughout “The Lucky Ones,” the three main characters discuss how each of them is or is not lucky. Each feels lucky because he or she is still alive, yet they are unsure exactly how this luck works.

    Ultimately, the film leaves the discussion of luck and fate open-ended.

    “The Lucky Ones” manages to deal with a difficult topic — the Iraq war and its effects on our troops — in a way that is both honest and engaging, without being overly depressing.

    It is a heartwarming film that explores just how much our servicemen and women leave up to chance when they leave home, as well as how strangers can make a difference in one another’s lives.

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