“The Lucky One” is the latest film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The man who’s brought us “A Walk to Remember”, “The Notebook”, and “Dear John” (among others) has inspired yet another big screen bodice ripper.
In it, Zac Efron is Marine serving in Iraq who finds a photo lying in some rubble moments before an explosion would have taken his life. Had he not moved to examine the photo on the ground, he would have been blown to bits. After the incident, he searches for the owner of the photo amongst his squad, but no one claims it. In the process of searching for who it belongs to however, he finds himself constantly carrying it… and the recipient of good luck and safe-keeping as a result. He begins to believe that the photo and the woman in it have been protecting him, and vows to find her once his service is over.
Of course, what he finds instead is the kind of romance that romance movie fan’s dreams are made of.
The Marine in question is played by Zac Efron. When he gets home from the war and has some trouble adjusting to home, he decides to walk with his dog across country to find the woman in the photograph. When he finds her (by locating the lighthouse in the background of the pic), he winds up landing a job as a hired hand at her dog kennel before he’s able to tell her the true reason he’s come to find her.
Gotta save some drama for later, ya know?
Efron’s Logan is a mechanically inclined ex-Marine, who plays piano and studied philosophy in college. He’s great with her kid and he’s pretty much the dog whisperer around her kennel business. Unfortunately, he’s practically a mute. The movie establishes that he suffered some traumatic stress over in Iraq, and a certain degree of his lack of verbosity can be attributed to that fact. But good God… the movie offers him about 18 different perfectly teed up moments to tell her about finding the picture, and he fumbles all of them. It’s a bit overwrought, especially seeing as in reality I’d imagine that a soldier whose life was really saved by a picture would unload that detail immediately. They’d be so full of gratitude that they’d be dying to tell the person.
Schilling’s Beth comes with a tremendous amount of baggage in the form of her testosterone addled ex-husband, who’s not only a police officer in the town, but also wired in to the local political and judicial scene through his powerful father. He’s borderline abusive, and jealous as hell of Efron. She’s protective of her young son, and still fearful of her ex. She lives with her Grandmother
These movies are designed to be felt emotionally and not thought about. Everything is either rain-soaked or dappled in golden sunlight, and a constant stream of mood-soaked music informs you how you’re supposed to be feeling. There’s no degree of emotional subtlety anywhere to be found. The “villain” flies off the handle into rage. Tears flow easily when the situation turns sad. When the time comes to hook up, things get thrown around. It’s like they had a movie mixing board in the creation of this film, and they turned the “Emotion” dial up to ten, and turned the “Nuance” dial down to zero.
But that’s ok, I knew what I was getting into, and so will most of the people who go to see it. I was actually ready to give it a decent grade (I mean, nothing overboard…) pretty much til the end. It had kept the sappy dialogue to a minimum, even though Efron does tell her she “should be kissed every hour, every minute, every second”… I mean, I’ve told women stupid shit like that too, at times. (When would she eat?) Anyways, they kept the syrup to an acceptable level, and the acting was all pretty good, Blythe Danner was great, it wasn’t all that insufferably terrible… but then they wrap it up with one of the must overblown, obviously contrived endings I’ve ever seen, just so that Efron and Schilling’s characters can proceed with their romance squeaky clean.
For fans of pheromone fueled, logic free fantasies like this one, it delivers in spades… I’m certain you’ll enjoy it very much.
For the rest of us, it’s every bit the over-romanticized schlock you imagine it would be.