I was recommended this film by a member of the RT community and, despite the negative reviews, I decided to give this a shot.
On their return home on a thirty day pass from Iraq, injured soldiers Sgt TK Poole (Michael Pena) and Private Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams) meet Sgt Fred Cheaver (Tim Robbins), a solider returning home at the end of his tour of duty.
Cheaver wants to return home to his wife and son, Poole and Dunn want to go to Las Vegas - Poole seeking a cure to his impotence following a shrapnel injury and Dunn to return a guitar to the family of her boyfriend.
When a blackout affects flights in New York, Cheaver, Poole and Dunn start a journey which takes in bar fights with college students in Indiana, spiritual healing services and invitations to a party in Kansas City, a picnic which leads to encounter with some travelling sex workers and a tornado and, ultimately, a journey of discovery for the three soldiers as they find out about each other and the country that they have become detached from and a country that appears to have changed in their absence.
Having not known about this film before, I went into it with open eyes and I'm glad I did.
The term "dramedy" is one that's getting a lot of use at the moment, but this is a film that uses it well. The humour is one the main at a chuckle level, but there are some belly laugh moments - such as the request made by Colee at the spiritual healing session on behalf of TK and Fred and a lesson in when discretion should be the better part of valour, especially when bedrooms have thin walls.
The drama is in sync with the humour, as the three characters look to compliment each others deficiencies and answer questions that are posed to them such as to the main reasons for serving in the Army and what lives they are coming back to.
All three leads work extremely well alongside each other as a sort of surrogate family for each other, you have the paternal Fred trying to keep TK and Colee in check whilst trying to make sense of his own problems. Tim Robbins is well suited to this role as a man who has to serve as referee and man who needs emotional and physical healing.
TK is, in effect, this snobbish, self important elder borther figure who dismisses Colee's life style choices and has no faith in her abilities. Michael Pena is great in this role as TK's behaviour is irritating to begin with, but as the journey goes on you get to see some of the reasons behind TK's need to develop himself.
Rachel McAdams, for me, is the standout as Colee. She is the young firebrand - trying to prove herself to Fred, TK and in some respects, to herself for her own self worth. McAdams has to give Colee an adult level self awareness to tie in with the humour and drama within the script whilst maintaining a childlike innocence throughout which is endearing and great to watch.
If you've not had the chance to watch this, give it a try on rental. I enjoyed this journey... I hope you do too.