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The Lucky Ones

4.1 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When three very different U.S. soldiers find themselves on an unplanned road trip across America, they form a deep bond that may be the closest thing any of them has to real family. A humorous and timely drama about coming home, The Lucky Ones stars Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Wedding Crashers), Tim Robbins (Mystic River, The Shawshank Redemption) and Michael Pena (Crash, World Trade Center), and is directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist) from a screenplay by Burger and Dirk Wittenborn. T.K. Poole (Michael Pena), Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams) and Fred Cheever (Tim Robbins) arrive in New York from Germany only to find their connecting flights canceled due to a power outage. Anxious to get to their respective destinations, they agree to share a rented minivan to suburban St. Louis where Cheever is to reunite with his wife and teenage son. From there, the other two plan to fly to Las Vegas where the macho T.K. wants to make an important stop before seeing his fiancee and the tough yet naive Colee plans to pay a visit to a fallen fellow-soldier's family. But when Cheever's homecoming turns out to be a far cry from what he anticipated, the trio's one-day drive expands into an impromptu cross-country marathon. Along the way, they experience a string of surprising adventures ranging from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. As their interstate journey takes them from a barroom brawl to a high society dance to a bizarre Sunday morning church service, T.K., Colee and Cheever discover that home is not quite what they remembered and the unlikely companionship they've found in one another might be what matters most of all.


An earnest if not wholly satisfying comedy-drama about an awkward homecoming for three dissimilar Iraq War veterans, The Lucky Ones works best as a vehicle for its interesting lead performances. Tim Robbins transcends his real-life, anti-war reputation by playing Cheever, a Reservist and decent fellow who is injured in Iraq when a porta-potty falls on him. Eager to see his family, he ends up on a road trip with two other soldiers trying to reach their own destinations. There's Colee (Rachel McAdams), a young and earnest woman who enlisted to escape family problems, endured a leg wound and is on her way to meet the family of her boyfriend, who was killed in combat. There's also T.K. (Michael Peña), recruited from a poor family and granted a month's leave after becoming impotent from a wound. The odyssey these characters, initially strangers to each other, share is fairly predictable for anyone who has seen such classic vets-coming-home movies as The Best Years of Our Lives. As Colee, T.K. and Cheever travel together, they encounter what sometimes feels and looks like an alien landscape: people who patronize them, people who despise the war without an inkling of what it's like to endure it, and a host of other exploitative chuckleheads who just don't get it. Inevitably, the trio has only itself to rely upon, to share the knowledge of the war's reality and provide support in ways that are sometimes funny and sometimes poignant. Co-written and directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist), The Lucky Ones has a rambling structure that causes the film to lose focus. But its heart is in the right place, and Robbins, McAdams and Peña play people one can care about as much as enjoy. --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, Michael Peña, Howard Platt, Arden Myrin
  • Directors: Neil Burger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: January 27, 2009
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001KP2J2G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,176 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Lucky Ones" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Amazon.com recapped the plot ably if less than enthusiastically, so I'll just jump to the praise. A truly fantastic movie! Intelligent, hilarious, touching, surprising, thoughtful, wonderfully performed, even suspensful. Superlatives do not do this movie justice because each one demands it's own exclamation when instead they are all woven together into the seemless and harmonic beauty that is this film's quiet grandeur. And don't forget it's very funny. So do yourself a great favor and see a movie with characters you will not want to leave, or leave each other. Thanks, and have a nice evening.
Comment 27 of 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
"The Lucky Ones" shows that a great movie can be made on a shoestring, without car explosions or special effects or any whizbangery.

All it takes is terrific acting, moving characters, great writing, and appropriate (often spectacular, sometimes grimy) scenery.

This one is the story of three soldiers, on leave from Iraq for wounds, who meet and share a ride--then share much more. They become emotionally close, even spiritually intimate, all the moreso because the civilian worlds they are returning to crumble around them like fading dreams.

Colee (Rachel McAdams) is the youngest, most innocent: wide-eyed, eager, happy, frank, unashamed, friendly, loving, open to anything. She is the forever-child--who learns, but never loses her innocent wonder, no matter how many shocks she endures.

She provides the catalyst for Cheever (Tim Robbins), the old timer who is looking forward to being DONE with the army and war, but whose world collapses and who, the others fear, has reached suicide; and for T.K. (Michael Pena), the young hotshot who has life all figured out, ready for his climb to the top--until nothing works.

It's Colee who points out the wonderful beauty of life they are passing through--which the other two almost miss, and who indicates how they can start over.

The ending is terribly sad and uplifting and scary and hopeless all at once.

There are many "war" movies, and they are pretty much all the same.

This is a "peace" movie, which shows how difficult and how rewarding peace can be--but also how fragile.
Comment 13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
The movie combines the well established road movie genre with the more recent 'returners from Iraq' genre. It is a comedy that makes light of personal tragedies and does it gracefully. I watched it in a 'combi pack' with 'Stop Loss', the much more serious film about soldiers who are forced to return to the front after their contracted term has expired.

In The Lucky Ones, Robbins is a sergeant who has completed his term and who looks forward to return to wife and teenage son. Pena and McAdams are on a 30 days home leave. The three get accidentally grouped together for a car trip from New York to Las Vegas and experience the difficulties of outsiders in an ambiguous situation. None of them has stable social circumstances, as even the Robbins character finds out to his shock. Their social backgrounds are quite divergent. They are variously feted as war heroes or attacked by the home crowd for being either too stupid to stay away from trouble or too luke warm about the war effort itself. The backseat drivers in middle American require heroic attitudes, not a statement that survival is a soldier's main objective.
This is the kind of movie that discusses problems without indoctrinating you.
10 Comments 7 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
While there are some disassociations with reality and home life for those stationed overseas in war, three returning wounded soldiers must objectively view their fortune when their home lives begin to dissolve around them. T.K. (Michael Pena), a leader returning to his fiancée in a precarious situation; Cheaver (Tim Robbins), an old veteran who is bidding adieu to his Army career but facing a home life that is potentially more volatile than war; and Colee (Rachel McAdams), a naïve but fresh-faced Private returning a loved one's heirloom to his family while dragging around her bum leg.

This wonderful tale of three soldiers sharing time on a cross-country road trip moves a bit slowly, but the realism, character development, and impeccable acting helps the pacing move along a bit. Friendship among the three appears to be real, and their bond forms quickly as they learn about one another's life and troubles. Charming chemistry is tough to come by; yet the camaraderie among these three returning soldiers feels genuine.

Much like Home of the Brave, there are some unfortunate clichés holding back the script. Not all soldiers sleep in their PTs, all soldiers coming home from war do not have PTSD, and despite what Hollywood would have us believe, they don't resort to violence as a first response to difficult situations when they have difficulties fitting into "normal" society. It's just a slanted view of troubled soldiers that gives the impression of people who are different from the rest of us, and I wish there were more movies that showed similarities instead of perceived differences. Our society has evolved quite a bit since the post-Vietnam days. I hate to say it, but I suspect this paragraph has something to do with Tim Robbins' politics.
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