So, I just got back from seeing The Lucky Ones.
I wanted to like this movie, I really really did. The premise seemed good, it was about soldiers without being about Iraq, and especially seemed to be about the way that soldiers are treated at home after serving in Iraq. Unfortunately, the only scenes in the film were the ones I had already seen in the trailer. That being said, there is one scene at a party which is perfect when a pro- and anti- war guest are having an argument using the three main characters as props in their argument rather than as real people. And when they finally do turn to the soldiers and ask "So what are you guys doing over there?" Tim Robbins gives the best response: "We're mostly just trying to stay alive." To which the pro-war guy snorts and says "well no wonder we're messing it up." Okay, it's a bit biased (pro-war guy has to admit it's not going well), but at least it gets to the view of the soldier.
Unfortunately, these good moments are lost in a daze of boring transitions. I don't know what it was, the dialogue was good, the sentences followed one after another, they made sense coming out of each character's mouth, but it just kept falling flat. The only thing I can think is just simple bad direction.
It's like the director was channeling Bruce Dickinson but just kept telling his post-production staff: "no, this is going too fast, we need more boring."
Finally, I think the film would have benefited immensely from some research on actual soldiers. And I think the Army would have been overjoyed to give the filmmaker access - this film presents soldiers very positively and realistically. What is 50 year old Tim Robbins doing playing a Staff Sergeant?!?! He should have been a SFC at the VERY least, but preferably a First Sergeant, which would have added to his character and allowed him to act in a more paternal role throughout the film. And what was up with Pena's mustache? Now, in the beginning, he has a goatee, which is fine, he's on leave, he doesn't have to conform to AR 670-1. But when he's back in uniform, he has a mustache that clearly extends down and around his mouth - no NCO would stand for that (and seeing as how he himself is an NCO, he would know better). They did handle USERRA well, coming up with a very plausible way for him to lose his job while deployed.
In comparison though, and despite what you might hear from other reviews, this is still a MUCH better film than Stop Loss