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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Philosophical film about an existential crisis; no definitive message beyond acknowledging the Great Uncertainty beyond this life and leaving it up to viewers to decide whether that's positive, negative, or something else. An elderly man realizes that some things that bothered him in the past -- such as others' sexual preference -- don't matter in the long run.
Positive Role Models
Everyone gets along (even after a threatened fight); race and gender are non-issues. Varied people are portrayed as having worth, though characters are also certainly flawed.
Violence & Scariness
Talk of the horrors of war.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Talk about topics including impotence, homosexuality, and heterosexual desire.
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Frequent use of "f--k" and its variations. Also "s--t," "bulls--t," "goddamn," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A fair amount of drinking (several scenes in a bar), with some drunkenness, including belligerent drunkenness. Marijuana smoking. Tobacco smoking is shown and glamorized.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.