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must've taken a wrong turn at Tikrit...

R

Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, Michael Pena

Cheaver: Hey, here it is, Sgt. Fred Cheaver, 648th reserves.  Hello, it’s right there!
Army guy: That’s how you spell it?
Cheaver: …with a C-H?  How else would you spell Cheaver??
Army guy: Probably lots of ways.
Cheaver: Not in English…

Three soldiers returning home (2 on 30 days leave and 1 for good) rent a car together and drive cross country after they discover their flights have been canceled.

This is a reasonably good, but overlong, little movie, featuring some good performances from the 3 leads but too many convoluted plot developments.  There’s even a rather unconvincing tornado that shows up to help steer the plot at one point.

I think what I liked most about the stories of these 3 people is that they rarely go exactly where you’d expect them to.  A little ways in, I thought I had things figured out, but then it starts throwing a few curve balls at the viewer.  I’m not talking about major shocking developments or anything like that, just little complications that take the story in another direction.

Robbins and Pena are both good, but I guess I’m just a sucker for Rachel McAdams.  Her southern accent might be a little forced at times, but it doesn’t distract too much from her charming performance.

Happily, the movie doesn’t get bogged down in a lot of political discussion and instead focuses on some comedic situations, the complications that can arise when someone is away for so long and the difficulties they might have being assimilated back into the general public.  In one scene, Colee (McAdams) is looked at with derision, and made fun of, by a group of pop culture junkies in a bar when she reveals she’s never seen the latest America’s Got Talent type show.  She, Cheaver (Robbins), and T.K. (Pena) see those kinds of extremes, but also experience extremes in kindness, as various people they meet extend a hand to help soldiers in any way they can.

It’s not a movie that’s going for any type of big, powerful message (like a certain Oscar winner), but it does seem to want to shine a light on the smaller, often unconsidered difficulties soldiers face upon returning home.  It’s overlong and a little over-plotted, but it’s an easy watch.  Plus, there’s only one explosion in the entire movie!

Don’t make fun of soldiers, even if they are cute little Rachel McAdamses, because they will knock you out.

10 – 2 for being overlong and over-plotted – .9 for a couple scenes that seemed phony and just there to make a point = 7.1