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Movie Review

Logan lucky? Only if bad luck counts.

The Logan family has been unlucky for as long as some folks in West Virginia can remember. And people 'round there have mighty fine memories.

Clyde went off to Iraq and had part of his arm blown clean off. He tends bar now, a plastic appendage strapped to his stump. Brother Jimmy might've done better for himself, or so folks thought: He'd been a football star in high school, and homecoming king to boot. He might've made it big in professional football, some say, but he got injured, too. Now he's divorced, walks with a limp and can't keep a job.

Oh, and little sis, Mellie? Well, Mellie's doing just fine, I guess.

But give it time.

Clyde insists the family's cursed. He'll tell anyone in earshot so. But cursed or not, there's only so much one family can take.

When celebrity someone Max Chilblain orders a drink and pokes fun at Clyde's injured arm, Clyde and Jimmy decide they've had enough. While Jimmy attacks Max's posse, Clyde sets the star's car on fire.

Then, as everyone watches the vehicle burn, Jimmy suddenly shouts, "Cauliflower!"

Clyde freezes: "Did you just say cauliflower to me?"

There's only one reason Jimmy would ever shout out the name of an otherwise inoffensive vegetable: He's got crime on his mind. Sure enough, the next morning, Clyde spies a document pinned to Jimmy's wall: "The 10 rules for robbing a bank," it says.

"My life of crime is over," Clyde reminds Jimmy the next morning. But Jimmy's fixed him breakfast, and it's hard to deny your brother when he fills your mouth with crispy bacon.

Jimmy doesn't just want to rob an ordinary bank, though. No, no. He has his eye on a bigger target: the Charlotte Motor Speedway. On any given weekend, hordes of racing fans arrive and dump millions of dollars into the track's on-site vault, and it's just ripe for the picking.

They'll need some help from Mellie. And the fire department. And lots of garishly painted cockroaches. Oh, and they'll need to partner with Joe Bang, the best safecracker in the state.

Never mind that Joe Bang's in prison.

Positive Elements

Sure, Jimmy may be an aspiring crook. But he's not going to let a little burglary caper get in the way of his priorities—especially being the doting father of a little girl.

Sadie doesn't get to see her pops very much; mother Bobbie Jo has full custody of her. So when Jimmy gets some time with Sadie, he makes the best of it. She helps him fix cars. He takes her miniature golfing. And even though he doesn't really have a say in how Sadie's being raised by her mother and stepfather, he is concerned about some of their questionable parenting choices. (When she's about to go to a Fast and Furious movie with her stepdad, he gently asks, "It's a little intense for kids, ain't it?" The stepfather says that Sadie and his other kids will be just fine: "Keeps 'em quiet," he says.)

The movie positions Sadie as being pulled between two different sets of values: On one side, there's Bobbie Jo and her comfortable, materialistic, shallow life. On the other is Jimmy and his (mostly) old-fashioned values: family, home and hard work.

Spiritual Content

Jimmy and Clyde recruit two of Joe Bang's brothers, Sam and Fish, into their crew, but they're initially reluctant to join. "We're walking with the Lord now," one says. "We need a moral reason."

Jimmy and Clyde tell them that they're planning to rip off the track during an event sponsored by a certain supermarket chain, one that their sister had some problems with when she was working there: Some employees got a little "handsy." The brothers quickly say that's moral reason enough.

Joe Bang has a cross tattooed on his chest. A woman tells a police officer that she's on her way to church.

Sexual Content

Mellie's garb isn't exactly what one would describe as modest. She favors pink bras, and they always seem to find their way into the sunlight by way of mesh shirts or half-unbuttoned tops. She and others wear tight short-shorts, as well.

Sadie, all of 6 or 7 years old, is involved in local beauty pageants (perhaps with the encouragement of her mother). She plans to sing Rihanna's song "Umbrella" during the talent portion of an upcoming competition. Her stepbrothers say that when Rihanna sings about her "umbrella," she's really singing about her vagina. "It's code," they explain.

Violent Content

Jimmy thwacks Max in the gut, and he in turn gets pummeled by Max and his thugs. (A small cut on Jimmy's brow lingers as evidence of the brawl.) Prison inmates nearly riot in the cafeteria, pummeling each other and prison guards. Someone crashes a car through a convenience store window. Max apparently gets into another altercation with the Logan brothers later: We don't see the fight, but do see Max's bruised, bandaged face after the fact. A racecar skids off a track and crashes. There's also footage of and older racing crash involving several cars.

Crude or Profane Language

One f-word and about a dozen s-words (as well as someone using the abbreviation "b.s.") We also hear "a--," "d--n" and "h---." God's name is paired with "d--n" three times. There are a couple of crude hand gestures.

Drug and Alcohol Content

As mentioned, Clyde works at a bar ("The Duck Tape"). He mixes an elaborate drink (one-handed), and a patron asks him to repeat the trick as if (in Jimmy's eyes) he was a trained seal. He pours shots for customers, drinking a couple along the way. Plenty of people drink beer and shots in that bar, as well as at the track. Fish and Sam apparently live together, and their coffee table is piled high with beer bottles and cans.

NASCAR driver Jesco White (played by himself) is encouraged to drink what looks to be champagne before a race. He takes a big swig right from the bottle. And while it's not enough to make him drunk, it is enough to throw off his meticulous nutritional balance, and he passes out during the race.

Someone smokes cigarettes.

Other Negative Elements

The entire plot of Logan Lucky is predicated on a significant "negative element": stealing a whole bunch of money. The would-be burglars concoct a massive plot that involves using and misleading a great many people along the way, and even requires one plotster to vomit mightily … and repeatedly.

Conclusion

It's hard to imagine a more American caper comedy than Logan Lucky.

If the American ideal stands for anything, after all, it's this: Success isn't a matter of luck. Anyone—absolutely anyone—can make it big if they're willing to dream extravagantly, work hard and take some mighty big risks. Jimmy is just such a man. He's suffered his share of hard knocks. But he knows opportunity when it comes knocking, and he's not afraid to answer the door. He—like Thomas Edison or Henry Ford—had an idea. And he was willing to plan, work and persevere to see it through.

But if there's one thing we Americans appreciate more than seeing Americans work hard and succeed honestly, it's watching them work hard and succeed dishonestly. At least in some of our favorite stories, that is. We enshrined Jesse James and Billy the Kid in dime-store novels, ate up the exploits of John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde. Our cinematic history is filled with heroes who take it from The Man and … well, keep it for themselves.

Logan Lucky gives us a likeable, handsome, blue-collar worker who never catches a break and loves his kid. The movie kicks him and kicks him some more and then, finally, it gives him a chance to pilfer a bit of the American dream for himself. Moreover, it presents the caper as a victimless crime—heavy on clever, smile-worthy twists and light on malicious greed or desire. No one supposedly gets hurt in this "harmless" escapade. Why, the Logans even leave behind most of the money, and the Speedway's insured for the rest. No harm, no foul, right?

Such is the corrosive reasoning behind such movies.

Now, I don't have anything against a clever caper movie, and this one's pretty clever. But we must remember the myth such films are built upon.

Logan Lucky and similar movies position their heroes as American Robin Hoods: They take from the haves (in this case, the massive speedway and its phalanx of insurance companies) and give to those who could use—deserve, really—the money.

But the money being taken doesn't just appear out of nowhere, like a pot of gold under a rainbow. It comes from folks like you and me—people who may struggle to pay the grocery bill from time to time, people who grouse about our insurance premiums always going up. Films like this one rarely represent those kind of realities accurately.

Instead, Logan Lucky gives us Jimmy Logan as its hero—a decent, hardworking soul who loves his daughter and doesn't want to take advantage of anybody. Not really. No harm, no foul, right?

But when I imagine Jimmy Logan talking to his daughter about his Charlotte Speedway heist, I wonder … what would he tell her? That it's OK to lie? Steal? It's forgivable as long as your heart's in the right place? That the people you're stealing from have plenty of money already?

In the movie's spiritual section, I mentioned how prospective plotters Sam and Fish Bang originally refused to join the gang, given how they were reformed and all. We need a moral reason, they said. But as soon as they were given one—no matter how flimsy—they were in.

The movie, perhaps intentionally, apes Sam and Fish. Thieving is wrong. We all know that. But Logan Lucky gives us a moral justification that, at least superficially, excuses it a bit. And it expects us, like Fish and Sam, to smile and nod and go with the flow.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan; Adam Driver as Clyde Logan; Riley Keogh as Mellie Logan; Daniel Craig as Joe Bang; Sebastian Stan as Dayton White; Katie Holmes as Bobbie Jo Logan Chapman; Seth MacFarlane as Max Chilblain; Farrah Mackenzie as Sadie

Director

Steven Soderbergh ( )

Distributor

Bleecker Street

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

August 18, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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