“The Lucky One,” now in theaters, began as a Nicholas Sparks novel. So did “Message in a Bottle,” “The Notebook,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “Dear John” and “The Last Song.” That means you probably know just what to expect — in a word, romance.
The film stars Zac Efron as a Marine who survives a series of near-death experiences overseas after he finds a “lucky” photo of a woman. When he returns stateside, he makes up his mind to find this stranger and to thank her for inadvertently saving his life. In fact, he walks — with his dog — all the way from Colorado to the South.
Upon meeting the woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling), instead of explaining his mission, he takes a job at her family-owned dog kennel in Louisiana. Beth’s a single mother, and her ex (Jay R. Ferguson) is jerk and a cop — and there’s nothing worse than a jerk with a badge — but sparks fly nonetheless.
The thing is, Efron’s lady-love had a Marine brother who was deployed and killed. You can bet that it is her brother’s keepsake photo Efron has found, and she won’t be too happy when she finds out.
Let’s start with the bad news. “The Lucky One” probably is the most formulaic piece Sparks has ever come up with. Sadly, this seems to happen when a successful writer is just writing to write … and to get paid. The plot is predictable and contrived, right down to the climax, which is completely manufactured for heightened effect.
But I also have to report the good news. Efron has arrived as an adult working actor. He was well-chosen, and his love scenes are quite steamy. Relative newcomer Schilling also plays her role very well. And Blythe Danner, aka Gwenyth Paltrow’s mom, is at the top of her game as Ellie.
For me, this was a bit of a guilty pleasure chick flick, and it delivered just what I expected, so I’m a fan!
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