Tough luck

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

We've already had many a serious documentary and dour drama about soldiers in the Iraq conflict, so cowriter-director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) at least earns points for trying something different with the subject in The Lucky Ones. Though he flavors his road movie with some drama, more often the filmmaker seems to be going for a kind of wacky comedy. A new approach, yes, but one that misfires badly.

United by a power outage at a New York airport that prevents them from flying to their destinations, exiting Army sergeant Cheever (Tim Robbins) and two soldiers on leave - wide-eyed Colee (Rachel McAdams) and TK (Michael Pena), a young military man made temporarily impotent by a shrapnel wound - agree to share a rental car and head West.

Along the way they have a series of misadventures that are usually either very mild (whoops, locked the keys in the car) or verging on the ludicrous (the movie lost me when the RV of traveling sex workers showed up).

What good actors are doing in this is as much a mystery as the tone Burger intends to create with the piece. It's not deep enough for drama or jokey enough for comedy, but one thing it definitely is, nearly from beginning to end, is contrived.