The Lucky Ones

[2.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A few warning signals here: (1) Tim Robbins in (2) a film dealing with soldiers returning from Iraq which (3) went nearly directly to DVD. I was expecting something earnest and tediously left-wing. But such are the benefits of low expectations: it wasn't good, but it wasn't awful.

Robbins plays grizzled vet Fred Cheaver, ending his military career, returning home after being injured in Iraq by a falling porta-potty. He makes the acquaintance of TK (Michael Peña) and Colee (Rachel McAdams), on leave to recover from their much less amusing injuries. Circumstances cause the trio to start off on a cross-country road trip in a rented red minivan. Many incidents ensue, colorful characters are encountered, lessons are learned.

The movie treats its main military characters with respect, and all three are fine actors. Most civilians they encounter treat them wonderfully; a few exceptions are clear bad apples.

The main problem is that the movie never quite lifts off from its "Little Miss Sunshine except with soldiers" premise. The writer/director, Neil Burger, previously wrote/directed The Illusionist which was much, much better.


Last Modified 2012-10-07 7:58 AM EST

Straight

[Amazon Link]

This is one of the best of Dick Francis's mystery novels; if you've never read him, this would be an excellent first pick. (It's one of the few Francis books apparently not now in print, but should be easy to find at a second-hand shop or your local library.)

Jockey Derek Franklin is nursing a badly broken ankle from a racing fall. Even more bad news follows, as he gets news that his older brother Greville has been critically injured in a construction accident. Greville's passing means that Derek must decide to do with Greville's gemstone business, and also the racehorses Greville owned. That puts him in over his head, but things get much worse: Derek is accosted (numerous times), and Greville's workplace and home are burgled. And a bunch of uncut diamonds have gone missing.

Derek needs to unravel Greville's business and personal affairs to discover who's behind all the evildoing. Watching him do so is a delight.


Last Modified 2012-10-07 7:58 AM EST