Movie Review: ‘Logan Lucky’ is quirky like ‘Napoleon Dynamite,’ but not as clean
It’s one of the few Hollywood comedies that avoids sex jokes and crude, bawdy pranks. Still, there are several content problems
Jimmy Logan is a hard-working divorced father who only wants what’s best for his elementary-aged daughter Sadie. When he’s not donning the hardhat at his job or spending a few minutes with his brother Clyde, he’s picking up Sadie from his ex-wife’s house for some daddy-daughter time.
Their fun runs the gamut: fixing cars, eating ice cream, and even getting darker with a spray tan session (yep).
He seems content with his rural West Virginia life, but when he gets laid off from his construction job at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he grows discouraged and desperate. Suddenly, his long-forgotten handwritten list detailing the “10 rules for robbing a bank” seems like a good idea.
Jimmy, though, doesn’t want to conduct the heist by himself, so he convinces Clyde, his sister Mellie and three other men to help him. He also decides a bank isn’t a big enough target. He has his sights set on – you guessed it – Charlotte Motor Speedway. That’s because his former job taught him that on race day, all the cash from concession sales is collected at an unguarded underground location. And with his knowledge from his former job, he knows how to get it.
The comedy/action film Logan Lucky (PG-13) opens this weekend, delivering the latest Hollywood robbery film in a long line of robbery films. It stars Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street) as Jimmy Logan, Adam Driver (The Force Awakens) as Clyde Logan, and Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road) as Mellie. It was directed by Steven Soderbergh, the same director behind Oceans 11, 12 and 13.
Jimmy’s initial plan is to rob Charlotte Motor Speedway during a low-attendance event when security will be minimal. But he is forced to change his plans and target the speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 – the highest-attended and most security-laden event of the year. The plot is further complicated because he wants to take along the veteran bank robber Joe Bang (Daniel Craig – Spectre and Skyfall), who just happens to be in prison. Jimmy draws up an elaborate scheme that will allow Bang to break out of prison for a few hours and break back in without anyone knowing.
Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Of course!
Logan Lucky is a quirky, creative comedy that is part Napoleon Dynamite, part Dumb and Dumber, and part Hee Haw. During its best moments, it’s hilarious. It’s also one of the few Hollywood comedies that largely avoids sex jokes and crude, bawdy pranks. For that, it is to be commended.
Despite those positive traits, it has several content problems that will concern most parents. In other words, it’s not as clean as Napoleon Dynamite.
Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!
Jimmy and the slow-witted Clyde beat up three men in a bar and then set their car on fire. Several dozen men in a prison café start fighting, although it’s pre-planned and part of the heist plot. Later, a warden kicks an inmate.
Mellie dresses immodestly throughout the movie, wearing either low-cut blouses, belly-revealing shirts or fishnets. It’s seemingly played for laughs, and the camera doesn’t ogle her, but it’s unnecessary. Joe Bang also changes clothes in the back seat of a car after he escapes, but we don’t see anything.
I counted 26 coarse words: s—t (10), h-ll (8), d—n (3), GD (3), f-word (1), a—(1). A child also says “vagina.” The first half of the film contains little coarse language; it’s sprinkled more heavily on the back end.
Other Positive Elements
The relationship between Jimmy and his daughter is truly special. It’s obvious he loves her and that she loves him. Yes, he plots a major heist (more on that below), but elsewhere he makes good choices – like when his ex-wife’s husband decides to take their kids to a Fast and Furious movie (Jimmy says it’s too intense for children).
Throughout the film Jimmy defends his brother, who lost half of an arm in Iraq.
Other Negative Elements
Joe Bang’s hillbilly brothers agree to help rob the speedway, but only if they can find a “moral reason” to do so. “We’re living for the Lord now,” one of them says. It seems to be a throwaway line, as they will say anything to impress people. Joe Bang also flips off people twice.
Jimmy seems to have a decent relationship with his ex-wife, although I wouldn’t call it exemplary. Yet they find a way to balance their needs and desires for Sadie’s sake.
Perhaps the biggest lesson involves the movie’s theme: theft. Is it ever OK to steal to take care of your family? Novels and movies like Les Miserables tug on our hearts as they broach this topic, but Logan Lucky is no Les Miserables. Jimmy is wanting millions. He wants to be rich. Besides, Jesus said He would feed us and clothe us (Matt. 6:25-34). I’m certain His plan doesn’t include breaking the Ten Commandments.
Should Christians watch comedy heist movies? After all, the protagonist often is someone who steals and robs. We end up cheering for him. Yet some of these movies are downright funny (see 1975’s The Apple Dumpling Gang).
Here are a few questions that I ask while watching these types of films: Do the robbers succeed? If so, are they caught? Do they show remorse? Are they punished? Is stealing and robbery glorified? Are we taught that crime pays? Or are the robbers simply presented as bumbling idiots who shouldn’t be imitated?
In Logan Lucky, we get the wrong answer of most of these questions. Still, most of the robbery plot is played for laughs. The inmates hold security guards as ransom so they can get … more DVDs and books. Joe Bang builds a bomb out of gummy bears and bleach pens. And so on. We end up laughing at them even though – sadly – we’re often cheering for them, too. But don’t fret too much. The movie’s final minute tosses us a curveball that just might solve any worldview concerns.
There’s too much language and violence in this one for children. For teens, it is a “maybe.”
What I Liked
The comedy. It truly is original and funny. In a movie world where “comedy” is synonymous with “raunchy,” Logan Lucky stands out. It’s a comedy about a few Southern boys who are – as the saying goes — “missing a few screws.”
What I Didn’t Like
The language. Yes, Logan Lucky has fewer words than, say, Will Ferrell’s The House (110-plus), but it would have been even better without them. Hearing God’s name abused three times is particularly disappointing.
Additionally, some of the Southern accents seem fake.
Thumbs Up … Or Down?
For entertainment value, thumbs up.
- Is it ever OK to steal? Did Jesus ever steal?
- When is a heist movie OK to watch and not OK to watch?
- Is it OK to cheer for the robbers in heist films?
- Did you like the ending? What do you think happened to Jimmy and his friends?
Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.