A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lucky is a low-key, meandering drama about a very elderly man (Harry Dean Stanton, in one of his final film roles) who's suffering existential angst. Expect strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and more) and discussion of adult topics including sexuality and the horrors of war. Characters drink and smoke, including marijuana. And the smoking of tobacco is glamorized to the point of being used as a symbol of freedom -- in a philosophical sense, as a symbol of the human struggle for truth and perhaps even representing free will. (Seriously, it's that kind of movie.) But Stanton's presence -- as well as that of David Lynch -- may appeal to teens who seek out offbeat/indie movies.
A thinking moviegoers movie. Nobody dies, nobody gets shot. Harry Dean Stanton is fabulous . The actors are to be commended. The sound track is perfect. A colorful film noir.Pay attention to the dialogue and you will be rewarded.
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What's the story?
A well-liked elderly man in a small town suddenly faces his own mortality, setting off an existential crisis. LUCKY, featuring Harry Dean Stanton in one of his final film roles, meanders through the man's daily routine: passing through his favorite coffee shop, catching his favorite game shows, and checking in with the usual crowd at his favorite bar. Along the way, characters played by David Lynch, Ron Livingston, and Stanton's Alien co-star, Tom Skerritt, show up to represent various aspects of the man's angst.
Is it any good?
Despite the quirky townsfolk and the always-appealing Stanton, this desert town-set film feels slow and, well, dry. The late, storied veteran actor plays an elderly man suddenly facing his own mortality and experiencing an existential crisis. Lucky meanders through his tiny town, interacting with the quirky residents, wondering whether there's any kind of objective truth to the universe or if it's just a collection of subjective realities. Yes, that's what the film is about. It straddles the line between slow-moving slice-of-life drama and surrealism, at times a cross between David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch. Will Lucky have an epiphany? Will anyone find the missing tortoise? What's behind that mysterious door? The answers, cinematically, are a collective shrug.
As it sounds, the film is somewhat in its own head. The script painstakingly reminds us on multiple occasions that its central question is one of "realism" -- that's realism as a philosophical concept, not a cinematic school, as Lucky contains some pretty heavy-handed symbolism (the obligatory red door, the phone calls without obvious participants on the other end, etc.). That's not to say there are no Lucky charms: It's generally amiable, Livingston's harmless lawyer has an affecting speech about a life-changing event, and Skerritt delivers a disturbing monologue about a war experience. But in his directorial debut, veteran character actor John Carroll Lynch has created a lightly genial atmosphere that can't quite get the script's heavy subject matter to float. The point seems to be that there are no definitive answers. That's hard to make dramatically involving. Perhaps the enduring memory of this film will be Stanton's impromptu singing of "Volver, Volver" with a mariachi band. The moment is a lovely keepsake of the longtime actor and singer, whose performances often left viewers with warm feelings.
Talk to your kids about ...
Lucky stars several well-known actors (Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, etc.), but it's being released as an indie film. Why do you think it wouldn't get studio backing? If a studio made it, what changes might you expect?
One of the movie's central themes is realism -- that is, that there's an "objective reality," a kind of absolute truth, that supersedes our "subjective reality," or how we perceive things. Do you think that's true?
Another one of the movie's themes is coming to terms with your mortality -- realizing that life is finite, that the end is always closer than it was a moment ago. How do the characters deal with this idea? How does thinking about it make you feel?
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