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"Lucky Them" hunts for a musical urban legend

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Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac Shakur and many, many more. They all helped redefine music as we know it, couldn't endure the shackles of fame and faked their own deaths in order to live out the rest of their lives in peaceful anonymity.

Wait, I misspoke. They're dead. Deader than disco and nu metal combined. That clearly wasn't an incognito Jim Morrison peeling out of a Walmart parking lot. Tupac wouldn't go to all the trouble of faking his own murder only to get caught on someone's camcorder. Despite having a postmortem discography three times longer than his antemortem, Jimi Hendrix isn't recording any new albums. As much as we'd like to believe that all these beloved musicians are jamming together on an island under Elvis' benevolent rule, the likely truth is that the only places they're "hiding" in are cemeteries.

Then again ...

In Seattle director Megan Griffiths' new film Lucky Them, Ellie Klug (Toni Collette) embarks on a quest to determine if one of music's crazy urban legends is actually true. As a reporter for a struggling Seattle music mag, Ellie is tasked with finding out whatever happened to Matthew Smith, a local music legend who disappeared from the public eye - and maybe the mortal realm - years earlier. It won't be an easy job. Smith is an acoustic guitar-playing Bigfoot: elusive, reclusive and possibly nonexistent. The only evidence Ellie has to work with is a few vague reports of Smith's last known whereabouts and some grainy YouTube footage. But if anybody could track down the great Matthew Smith, it's Ellie - she and Matthew used to date. Still, a little backup couldn't hurt, so Ellie enlists yet another ex to aid in her expedition - socially awkward would-be-documentarian Charlie (Thomas Haden Church). The hunt is on as Ellie combs the Evergreen State's highways and byways looking for the mysterious music man who once stole her heart.

Toni Collette's Ellie is a woman who's spent her entire adult life working hard and playing hard. Collette plays her as strong and independent, maybe even a little gruff, but there's an undercurrent of sweetness to her that a life of burning the candle at both ends has done very little to diminish. Thomas Haden Church's Charlie is the avatar of social ineptitude. He always knows just what not to say or do. Church's darkly comedic performance brings to mind his earlier role as Lowell Mather, the dimwitted airplane mechanic on the TV sitcom Wings, but slightly smarter and infinitely more neurotic. Charlie can be a little too much sometimes - for both Ellie and the audience - but his good-natured demeanor sells the character in spite of himself.

Lucky Them is a charmingly honest study on life and love. Life is sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking, and so is love. As Charlie opines in a rare moment of eloquence, it's all a process of trial and error. This film is sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking. Fortunately, there aren't any errors to be found.

Lucky film.

LUCKY THEM, opens Friday, June 20, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $4.50-$9, 253.593.4474

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