Lucky in love but not logic
Is there such a thing as a discriminating Nicholas Sparks fan? His schmaltzy novels have been made into seven feature films, and while the formula is about the same in each, can’t we agree that some of those adaptations are better than others? His latest, “The Lucky One” is prettier but dumber than Sparks’ best film adaptations (“The Notebook,” “Dear John”), but will still have his fans entranced by the escapist melodrama on display. If you are inclined to retort, “they had me at Zac Efron” then the hunky actor and his scene-stealing boxer briefs will likely make any logic in this screenplay superfluous.
Efron plays Logan, a Marine whose life is saved when he stoops to pick up a photo of a pretty girl during an ambush in Iraq. Having survived three tours, he comes home shell-shocked and determined to find the girl in the photo, and yada, yada, yada get her to fall in love with him. And who wouldn’t—this guy has gorgeous eyes, a quiet, patient demeanor, loves kids, can fix old boats and he plays the piano.
But first, he has to walk—yes, walk—from Colorado to Louisiana to find mystery photo girl which he does, then offers to work at her family’s kennel where Beth (Taylor Schilling, “Atlas Shrugged, Part 1”) takes care of her darling eight-year-old (Riley Thomas Stewart) from a failed marriage, and a sassy Mother (Blythe Danner).
Predictably, the ex-husband is both a complete jerk and the town cop (Jay R. Ferguson) which means he’ll harass Efron because he, like we, know the inevitable: Someone is going to live happily ever after and it won’t be him.
All Logan would have to do is explain the whole reason for his cross country hike but for all his apparent perfection he can’t utter the words so the BIG SECRET will have to wait until Beth has fallen madly in love, allowing the reveal to provoke justifiable outrage, wherein someone will cry and someone will die. In that order, mind you.
While impossible to prove with this effort, Efron can act (see “Hairspray” and “17 Again”), but he is going to have to pick better scripts if he wants to be taken seriously. Schilling too, shows promise and does what she can with the maudlin material and the dowdy outfits she’s asked to wear.
“The Lucky One” serves up the predictable syrupy recipe with the requisite sugary coating, but don’t go looking for anything that’s going to stick.
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence.