‘The Lucky One’: It sure isn’t the audience

(L-r) TAYLOR SCHILLING as Beth and ZAC EFRON as Lo­gan in Warner Bros. Pic­tures’ and Vil­lage Road­show Pic­tures’ ro­mantic drama “THE LUCKY ONE,” a Warner Bros. Pic­tures re­lease.


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 clich&ea­cute;d, 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: D

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You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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