If lines like “you should be kissed every day, every hour, every minute” don’t make you want to snicker or roll your eyes, then you are the intended audience for The Lucky One.
Like best-selling author Nicholas Sparks’ last big-screen adaptation, Dear John, The Lucky One uses the military and war to add to the schmaltz. With a script from screenwriter Will Fetters, director Scott Hicks keeps things similar to Sparks’ other movie adaptations: heavy on the romance and melodrama.
The movie centers on Marine Sgt. Logan Thibault (Zac Efron), who finds a picture of a woman after a night raid in Iraq. He carries it around and credits the woman in the photo with helping to save his life. So when he returns home he wants to find and thank her. Logan deduces the location of the woman based on a lighthouse in the photo and tracks her down in a small Louisiana town.
The woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling), runs a dog kennel with her grandmother Ellie (Blythe Danner) and thinks the stranger is there to apply for an open job. Logan goes along with Beth’s assumptions and applies to work at the kennel. Beth is hesitant, but Ellie is quick to hire him.
Beth is single mom to young son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart) and has some baby-daddy drama with her ex-husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), who still thinks he can strong-arm her into doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants it. The Keith character is hugely clichéd, but it creates some necessary conflict.
Of course, sparks (pun intended) fly between Beth and Logan and things start getting (PG-13) hot and heavy between them quickly. This is the opportunity to swoon over a shirtless Efron in his black boxer briefs (assuming if you’re into this flick then you’re into that sort of thing).
Logan quickly realizes the picture belonged to Beth’s brother, who died in Iraq, and he has trouble getting up the courage to tell Beth that he found her picture, thus there is a cloud of secrecy over their burgeoning romance.
The overall plot is thin and contrived. Logan has to keep this “secret” to keep the carrot of potential drama dangling in the audience’s mind. Ultimately, the truth was nothing more than a non-issue. All the while, I kept thinking how it really would not be such a big deal when she found out the real reason Logan showed up on her doorstep.
Zac Efron is nicely making the move from teen heartthrob to serious adult actor, potentially following in the footsteps of someone like Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn’t quite believe him as a soldier, but luckily there was only a short war scene at the beginning.
Taylor Schilling’s performance was a bit wooden and she had no name or face recognition for me (though she has had a major role in the TV show Mercy). It also didn’t help that I thought she looked a little too old for the baby-faced Efron. They apparently are three years apart in real life, and she seemed more like his older sister than his lover to me.
The Lucky One continues to pander to the audience that enjoys a heaping helping of sentimentality with its movie experience. Not much in life is guaranteed, but I have come to count on Nicholas Sparks’ books and movies, including a tearjerker, sappy romance.
Movie Grade: DEndFragment EndFragment