Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
It should be a given to see Ocean’s Eleven, the best of the Ocean’s trilogy, before or after Logan Lucky in order to get why everyone’s comparing the new movie to Soderbergh’s other capers. The structure, including the flashback reveal of the twist in the third act, is pretty much the same. And Soderbergh has made his own comments about the similarities, here to Entertainment Weekly:
On the most obvious level, it’s the complete inversion of an ‘Ocean’s’ movie. It’s an anti-glam version of an ‘Ocean’s’ movie. Nobody dresses nice. Nobody has nice stuff. They have no money. They have no technology. It’s all rubber band technology, and that’s what I thought was fun about it. It seemed familiar to me, but different enough. The landscape, the characters, and the canvass were the complete opposite of an ‘Ocean’s’ film. What was weird is that I was working as a producer on ‘Ocean’s Eight’ while we were shooting ‘Logan,’ and it was kind of head-spinning. That’s like a proper ‘Ocean’s’ film. This is a version of an ‘Ocean’s’ movie that’s up on cement blocks in your front yard.
You’re fine sticking with just the first Ocean’s movie, but the second one is recommended here because it’s one that a lot of people dismiss as being a disappointing sequel. But there are also a lot of defenders who recognize that it’s a meta-movie masterpiece. While Logan Lucky makes a direct meta reference to the Ocean’s movies, Ocean’s Twelve is secretly self-referential, if you trust the brilliant analysis of Matt Singer from a few years ago:
Ocean’s Eleven have been forced to make a “sequel” against their will, which must be bigger than their last heist, which was already the biggest heist ever. Somehow, they’ve got to make this sequel specifically for an audience that knows them and all their old tricks — and will be scrutinizing every move they make. Most of ‘Ocean’s Twelve,’ then — the scheming, the planning, the bickering, the forced enthusiasm, the seeming disinterest — is not actually the heist at all, which occurs off-camera midway through the film. The rest is all the “very elaborate show” done for the benefit of The Night Fox and his surveillance cameras — or for the audience watching in the theater or at home. Who, in the end, are just as fooled as he is.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
When it comes to comedies involving NASCAR, Talladega Nights is still king, and many moviegoers are sure to be reminded of the movie when they see Logan Lucky. Both movies had the support of NASCAR despite the minor negative aspects of their portrayals of the racing operation. Logan Lucky features a bit of fictional insurance fraud committed by the company and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, while Talladega Nights contains full-on satire of NASCAR and the culture surrounding it. But this movie is also beloved by NASCAR professionals and fans because its lampoonery is full of love and respect.
The parts of Logan Lucky that remind me most of Talladega Nights are those scenes with Sebastian Stan as a famous NASCAR driver and Seth MacFarlane as his sponsor, owner (or head) of an energy drink brand. They’re the least important and least interesting and least enjoyable characters, and those scenes could have been cut and the movie wouldn’t hurt as a result. But that shouldn’t reflect badly on this recommendation because it’s a just a poor reminder of how hilarious Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are in Talladega Nights as a famous NASCAR driver and his best friend/team member, respectively. Especially when they become temporary enemies.
Remote Area Medical (2013)
Another minor character who could probably have been cut, though not because she’s not enjoyable, is Katherine Waterston’s medical practitioner love interest. But the fact that her part does exist in the movie means I don’t have to choose some NASCAR film (NASCAR The IMAX Experience, I guess) as this week’s obligatory documentary. Instead I can recommend one specifically relevant to her kind of healthcare service. Remote Area Medical is about one short-term pop-up health clinic, organized by the titular non-profit organization, set up in a spot very relevant to the plot of Logan Lucky: a NASCAR stadium. People from all over the area are seen traveling to and camping out at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Eastern Tennessee in order to line up and get their first medical and dental checkups in years.
I also recommend a 2014 segment of 60 Minutes called “The Health Wagon,” in which Scott Pelley rides along with two women driving a Winnebago-based clinic around Appalachia to offer free health services to people in rural areas with no medical care facility in the area. The RV featured in the show had some problems of its own, which is similar to the one in Lucky Logan having an alternator issue. You can check that out if you have 60 Minutes All Access. There might be other healthcare documentaries out there that showcase something like the Health Wagon but Remote Area Medical, which is primarily an observational spotlight on RAM without any direct political rheetoric, is a good first introduction to the subject.
Hell or High Water (2016)
While most critics went for the Ocean’s Eleven meets Raising Arizona/O Brother, Where Art Thou? comparison, my immediate take after seeing Logan Lucky was “Ocean’s Eleven meets Hell or High Water.” The new Soderbergh has the tone of the former and the fraternal crime drama of the latter. It’s not nearly as serious as the Best Picture nominee, but it does share a lot of the same kind of serious backdrop. In Soderbergh’s movie, you’ve got brothers dealing with hard financial times, and there’s issues abound in the context of the stories, from guys being laid off, being insurance liabilities for having preexisting conditions, that mobile health clinic that’s obviously making up for healthcare industry problems, and more. Logan Lucky is farcical in its approach but its world is still very grounded.
While Logan Lucky stars Star Wars villain Adam Driver and X-Men actor (really, eventually, we hope) Channing Tatum as brothers who rob a NASCAR speedway because they’ve got nothing else going on despite having been military and sports heroes that their community now ignores. But really they’re just trying to get rich. Hell or High Water stars Star Trek lead Chris Pine and X-Men actor Ben Foster as brothers who rob a bunch of banks because their home is about to be foreclosed on, and really they just want to be able to reap the riches that will come with the discovery of oil on that very property. Logan Lucky sometimes seems to be making fun of the Southern life it portrays, though, unlike Hell or High Water, which is very respectful of its characters and their kind.