Faith-based films have come far in the past two decades. Kick-started by the popularity of The Passion of the Christ in 2004, films that bring God explicitly into their stories have gotten better and better, appealing not only to viewers of faith, but to a more general audience as well.
Such is Lucky Louie, written and directed by Daniel Roebuck together with his daughter, Grace Roebuck. It's a buddy comedy, whodunit, and commentary on forgiveness all rolled into one.
Wilbert Moser (Basil Hoffman), a retired detective, gives of himself in so many ways to his community. Among other things, he leads the Bible study at Barney's Café for a group of ex-cons whom he arrested in his younger years. They've all paid their debt to society and through Wilbert's mentoring, have embraced their second chance.
But one unsolved case plagues Wilbert: The Donald Duck Case.
It was a bank robbery pulled off in 1972 by four masked men referring to themselves as Huey, Dewey, and Louie (of Walt Disney fame) with Uncle Donald as the leader of the gang, whose identity has never been discovered. Neither was the stolen money ever recovered. Wilbert dreams about it and talks about it incessantly. Finally, Mimi (Stephanie Zimbalist), pastor of the local church, convinces him to let it go.
The Robbery from "Lucky Louie." © 2023 Magic Bean Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
Wilbert decides to take Mimi's advice but the very same afternoon Alex D'Ambrosio (Madelyn Dundon) shows up on his doorstep wanting to talk about the robbery. She's a forensic psychology major and has been assigned the Donald Duck case as a school project.
He resists her for a while, but Alex's persistence pays off and Wilbert, together with his ex-con friends, decides to take another look at the case.
Basil Hoffman as Wilbert Moser in "Lucky Louie." © 2023 Magic Bean Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
Lucky Louie plays like The Bucket List meets 2017's Going in Style except that instead of pulling off a heist, this group of seniors is trying to solve one.
There's plenty of friendly joking and ribbing amongst the elderly friends as they go about re-interviewing folks who were witnesses to the '72 caper. Hitch (Daniel Roebuck), Peyton (Duane Whitaker), Pete (Willard E. Pugh), and Lincoln (Patrick Voss Davis), although younger than the rest, shares the ex-con title with his older pals, led by Alex and Wilbert, investigate until they run out of leads.
Madelyn Dundon as Alex D'Ambrosio in "Lucky Louie." © 2023 Magic Bean Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
When Wilbert ends up in the hospital, Hitch has the crazy idea to re-enact the robbery, hoping they'll find something they never saw before. Since Wilbert has given so much to the community, the community rallies around him and they orchestrate the fake robbery, which is absolutely hilarious, complete with tiny water pistols for guns.
Amidst the craziness of the drive to solve the Donald Duck case, characters face their own sinfulness and the shame that comes from past misdeeds. It takes much courage to stand before a group of people, but especially your friends, and admit you've done wrong, asking for forgiveness. Just like Wilbert gave second chances to his ex-con friends and many in the community, God offers each of us mercy and forgiveness with no strings attached. The hard part is accepting that forgiveness and being able to forgive ourselves. It's the love of God and of other people that enables us to put away shame, embrace love, and move forward.
For more information about Lucky Louie, visit the film's website: luckylouiethemovie.com.