- Running time:
- 101 minutes
- Zac Efron -
- Logan Thibault
- Taylor Schilling -
- Blythe Danner -
- Riley Thomas Stewart -
- Jay R. Ferguson -
- Keith Clayton
Guys, here's a line to borrow to make the ladies swoon: "You should be kissed: every day, every hour, every minute." Then again, it might induce breathlessness from laughter.
These lines are uttered, punctuated with a piercing blue-eyed gaze, by Zac Efron, who plays a sensitive former Marine in The Lucky One. The film is based on Nicholas Sparks' novel of the same name, and the intent of its dreamy-speak is obvious: to melt the hearts of women, young and not-so-young.
Nothing in this lovey-dovey tale comes as a surprise, except the fact that director Scott Hicks is at the helm. He made one of the most complex and moving films of 1996, the Oscar-nominated Shine. But Sparks' sentimental dramas, the most recent being Dear John and The Last Song, are not made to win awards, just hearts.
Not that Efron doesn't make the best of a predictable role. He plays Sgt. Logan Thibault, who returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq and hoofs it from Colorado to Louisiana, accompanied by his dog, Zeus. What prompts this trek? A photo of an unknown woman that he stumbled across on the battlefield. Logan credits her smiling visage with keeping him alive. With only the knowledge that her name is Beth and a vague idea of where she lives, he tracks her down.
Though he's tough enough for battle, he can't summon the courage to explain his purpose to Beth (Taylor Schilling). So he settles for a job at the dog-training business Beth runs with her grandmother Ellie (Blythe Danner). He also makes fast friends with her 7-year-old son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart), and stoically suffers the insults of Beth's bullying ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson) — who also is the town sheriff.
The story arc follows an established formula for Sparks' adaptations. The checklist includes: a brawny but caring young man who often harbors a secret; an attractive but emotionally wounded woman; an impediment to their getting together, usually in the form of a meddlesome former flame; a gorgeous American heartland setting; and a scene of the leading man bare-chested, showing off his toned pecs, leading to tasteful PG-13 lovemaking.
Despite Logan's abundant charms, Beth initially resists him for no real reason other than to allow him to prove his undying ardor. Equally inexplicable: The townsfolk regard the dashing war veteran as a no-good bum.
So the clichés are as thick as a vat of honey. And the love story proves just as syrupy. But for those who lap up this sappy vision of romance, it contains all the key ingredients.
Movie theaters and showtimes for The Lucky One in St. Louis.
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