Three former marines who served together in Vietnam reunite after 30 years to bury the son of one of them – a 21-year-old killed in Iraq in the latest of America’s unwinnable wars. This stirring but slightly overcooked comedy-drama from Richard Linklater is a sequel of sorts. It was based on the novel by Darryl Ponicsan, which itself is a follow-up to The Last Detail (filmed by Hal Ashby in 1973).
A trio of terrific performances prevent this road movie from getting bogged down in its wallowing score and on-the-nose message. Bryan Cranston, playing hard-partying reprobate Sal, is the showiest. Cranston attacks his lines with the same gusto with which Sal polishes off the whiskey shots that punctuate his day. Laurence Fishburne has fun as the man of God who has renounced his wild years but not quite let go of his salty language. But Steve Carell, playing grieving father Doc, is the one who resonates. His voice is a wispy husk of a thing, the meat stripped off it by suffering. And his laugh makes your heart hurt.