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On the Couch


DVD REVIEW

The Lucky Ones
Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, Michael Peña

It’s hard to classify The Lucky Ones, Neil Burger’s entertaining yarn about three US soldiers flying home for a 30-day leave who become involved with each others’ lives on an impromptu road trip.
It’s definitely a road movie. That bit’s easy. But it’s hard to say whether it’s a funny one with serious bits or a serious one with funny bits.
There’s also the outside chance that it’s a political movie but if that’s the case, it’s a really, really bad one because whatever “message” it has is poorly expressed to the point of non-existance. I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt on this though. It’s almost harder to not make some sort of a statement about the US occupation of Iraq in a film about troops coming home from said war.
But a bland political ground is firmly struck and into the political vacuum is placed three well structured and nuanced character performances from Robbins, McAdams and Peña.
All sent home due to injury – some more embarassing and painful than others – the trio are thrown together when their flights for the final leg home are cancelled.
The driving, and therapy, begins in earnest as each character reveals themselves in stages and they share, amongst other things: a bar brawl, a fight over Elvis’s guitar, a divorce and dances with hookers (not a sequel to the Kevin Costner Oscar-winner).
About as plausible as Field of Dreams or Donald Trump’s “hair”, The Lucky Ones still deals in a nice line of ribald, naturalistic and entertaining dialogue, a good few chuckles and an occasional surprise.
It’s also saccherine-sweet and a little bit dopey but, if this can be tolerated, it could be just what Dr Feelgood ordered.

 

Fast&Furious
Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster

In the long and many-storied history of films that didn’t need a sequel, The Fast and the Furious was a footnote. An enjoyable, if brainless action romp from 2001, it served as a platform for the careers of both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, to a greater and lesser extent. Its story left no questions unanswered, no stone unturned and absolutely no need for a follow-up.
It also made a family-sized shed full of money so, of course, there were sequels. Two earth-shatteringly uninspiring and roundly derided sequels.
Flying in the face of this dwindling popularity comes Fast & Furious, a film that shouldn’t really exist but is actually a lot better than you think it would be.
First in the positive tick column is the reteaming of the original cast – Diesel, Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster. This ain’t exactly the cast of Schindler’s List but they were the originals and compared to the clowns that followed them, the best.
The story is perfect for the sequel. There’s a few surprises, a little heartbreak, some unresolved issues and a grudge or two to settle.
Several years after TFATF, Agent Brian O’Connor (Walker) is back with the FBI working on the case of a drugs dealer who uses talented street racers to run his product across the border.
A series of implausible, but not entiely stupid events throws O’Connor and Dominic Toretto together again and the two head off to race, pose, flex their muscles and catch the bad guy – one for the law, one for revenge.
It’s all very silly stuff but manages to tap into the giddy implausibility that  parts two and three missed and that made the first film so much fun.
So if you like your cars fancy and your plots simple, stock up on popcorn and beer and strap yourself in for 90 minutes of pure indulgence.

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