The spiritual journey of a ninety-year-old atheist.
Lucky is an old US Navy veteran of rigid habits and attitudes in a small town. When his routine is interrupted by a sudden collapse at home, Lucky finds himself realizing that his remarkably healthy old age is going to face an inevitable decline and he has to accept it. In that difficult reassessment, Lucky must face up to what he believes in and how much it compares to his neighbors' priorities. In doing so, Lucky finds that his life has its positive side as he searches for some meaning that he can accept.
- Lucky tells the low-key story of a 90-year-old man (Harry Dean Stanton) and his struggle against encroaching old age. The film depicts his coming to terms with his own mortality, as he searches for enlightenment.
The film starts with Lucky waking up in the morning, smoking a cigarette, and then doing some yoga. He lives alone in a small house in the small desert town of Piru, California. He drinks a glass of cold milk (the only thing in his refrigerator). Later he heads to a diner for coffee where he is on friendly terms with the owner Joe (Barry Shabaka Henley) and the staff. Joe suggests he quit smoking or it will kill him. Lucky claims that if it could he would have died already. He stays and works on his crossword puzzle from his daily newspaper.
Lucky walks to a local market where he buys another pack of cigarettes and another carton of milk. The owner, Bibi, tells him that her son Juan (Spanish for John) is having his tenth birthday in one week and is becoming closer to a man, so Lucky calls him Juan Wayne on his way out.
That evening, Lucky stops at a bar and has a few Bloody Marys with the locals who frequent the establishment. One of the regulars named Howard (David Lynch) is depressed since his pet tortoise, which has outlived two of his wives, has escaped.
The next morning, Lucky is having his a cup of coffee when he becomes light headed and falls over. At the doctor's office he is given a clean bill of health. Dr. Christian Kneedler (Ed Begley Jr.) tells Lucky that he has out smoked and outlived most his same age fellows who have ailments and that he considers Lucky... a wonder of medical science. He tells Lucky his own father passed away about a year ago, the look on Lucky's face suggests that he has known the Doctor for many years. Possibly since he was a child.
At the diner later that morning, he says he fell and everyone who usually jokes with him become concerned, not wanting to feel like a burden and that his time is short he leaves the diner after saying, "What's the fucking point?"
That night, Lucky calls a friend while he is watching TV. He tells his friend that when he was a boy he accidentally shot a mockingbird with his BB gun. He says the silence was devastating and it was the saddest thing he had ever seen. He thanks his friend for listening and hangs up.
At the bar another evening later, Lucky listens to the story from one of the bar regulars named Paulie (James Darren) about how he met and married his first wife and Lucky reflects that he has never been married or had any lasting relationship. Lucky then sees Howard talking with a lawyer named Bobby Lawrence (Ron Livingston) about making a will for himself and wanting to leave all of his possessions to his pet tortoise which Howard has named 'President Roosevelt'. Lucky begins causing a scene over Howard's life choices that everyone in this world is alone and is meant to be.
Another day or two later, one of the diner staff, named Loretta (Yvonne Huff), visits Lucky to check on him. While smoking marijuana, Lucky shows Loretta old photos of his military service in the US Navy and they watch old VHS tapes of Liberace performing in concert as Lucky comments on his past life how he never got married or settled down.
While having coffee at the diner, Lucky runs into the lawyer Bobby Lawrence where he confides in him about his accident days earlier. Bobby tells Lucky about a time when he nearly got into a car accident that could have been fatal and comments on being prepared for the unexpected.
Lucky visits a pet store to look for a small animal to adopt as a companion, but he instead decides on a packet of live crickets.
At the diner the next morning, Lucky meets an elderly tourist named Fred (Tom Skerritt) whom he chats up a conversation after learning that Fred used to be a Marines veteran who served in World War II. Lucky tells Fred about his time in the US Navy during the war in the Pacific and of his evading death several times during combat. He shares that his nickname arose from him having the relatively safe job of cook on an LST.
Lucky attends Bibi's son Juan's birthday party and comes to enjoy the company and even sings a song in Spanish for the attendees.
That evening, Lucky goes back to the bar for his Bloody Mary drinks as usual where he chats up talk with Howard, Paulie and others about his life. Howard still has not found his tortoise and claims that it was "meant to be" of his companion leaving and that all things must eventually come to an end. Lucky then lights up a cigarette at the bar, despite being told not to by the owner, Elaine, and brings up his public smoking that got him banned from a place called Eve's. Lucky explains that everything goes away eventually and that everyone should make the best of life as they have it for now before they pass on. He leaves the bar still puffing on his cigarette.
The next morning, Lucky wakes up and goes into his usual routine with drinking his cup of hot black coffee, doing yoga, and drinking a glass of cold milk. He then sets the clock on his coffee machine to the correct time and cleans up his house for the first time in months. He goes for a walk through town as he always does and passes by an outdoor botanic garden which is named 'Eve's' where he was banned for public smoking. In the desert, Lucky lights up a cigarette, looks up at a tall and imposing cactus with smaller cacti growing from it, breaks the fourth wall by staring directly into the camera and smiling, and begins his walk back to town. In the final shot as Lucky walks down the desert trail path alone, a tortoise (presumably Howard's tortoise) walks across the path from one end to the other before disappearing in the desert bushes.