Many films have sought to portray the terrible damage inflicted by war against a soldier's mental and physical health, but The Lucky Ones takes this concept to new depths by depicting a trio of Army personnel who have been messed up only in amusing, sitcom-y ways. It has three strangers with nothing in common but their uniforms driving cross-country to get everyone home, and if that sounds like an ill-conceived cross between Stop-Loss and Planes, Trains & Automobiles, you're right on the money. Especially on the "ill-conceived" part.
Sgt. T.K. Poole (Michael Peña) is a horny young man who's been rendered impotent -- hilarious! -- by shrapnel from an IED. He can't bear to tell his fiancee, though, because without sex, "we got nothing to talk about." Pvt. Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams) is taking a guitar that belonged to her boyfriend, who was killed in action, to his family in Las Vegas, deluding herself into thinking they'll take her into their home, too, as she has no family of her own. T.K. and Colee are on 30-day leaves; Sgt. Fred Cheever (Tim Robbins), a career Army man from St. Louis, is heading home for good, having injured his back in combat. Well, OK, a porta-potty fell on him. But still, he's retiring.
A blackout at JFK Airport suspends all flights indefinitely, so Cheever opts to rent a car and drive to Missouri. T.K. and Colee tag along, figuring they'll fly out of St. Louis, but the three wind up sticking together after T.K. and Colee witness Cheever's home life falling apart the very minute he arrives. Don't worry if that sounds sad -- the film's jaunty, light musical score, played in nearly every scene, serves to keep you feeling upbeat.