Established May 2010.

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Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Movie Review: THE LUCKY ONE

Director: Scott Hicks
Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Jay R. Ferguson

What prompts someone to walk halfway across the country to track down a girl in a photo? I really do mean walk. There was no truck or plane ticket. Logan Thibault (Efron) is back home from his third tour as a marine. He finds a picture of a beautiful blonde by a lighthouse amongst some rubble and keeps it on him. After he is unable to find anyone to claim the picture, he keeps it and it acts like his lucky charm. He has survived while many of his friends and fellow troops have perished. His best friend, Victor, tells him to go find this girl once they get back home. He discovers the lighthouse is located in Louisiana and treks out with his dog from Colorado to go find this mystery woman.

Logan finds the lighthouse in a small town and knows it is only a matter of time before he finds the girl. He goes to various people in a bar and someone recognizes her and says her name is Beth Green (Schilling). Beth is a single mom who runs a dog training and boarding business with her Grandma Ellie (Danner). Logan shows up at the kennel to explain himself to Beth and show her the picture. He clams up and cannot seem to get the words out. She assumes he is there for a job opening. Ellie has a good hunch about him and hires him on the spot. Logan fails to express his true reason for being there but takes the job to get closer to Beth. Beth's ex and father to her son, Keith (Ferguson), is a local cop and son to the sheriff. He still yearns for Beth and likes to play the "My dad's the sheriff so that makes me important" card. He runs into Logan at the kennel and grows highly suspicious of him. He is leery about what this ex-Marine drifter is randomly doing in town and why he is spending time with his ex-wife and son. With time, Beth seems to relax around Logan as he proves to be responsible, talented, and great with her son. Her brother was also a marine but was killed on duty. She was very close to him so Logan is a great reminder for her of his memory. She starts to have feelings for him but can't seem to get out of him to open up around her as the post war trauma still haunts him.

There are some things you know going into any movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel. This is the seventh adaptation of one of his books, so there is a bit of a formula to them. There is bound to be a somewhat sappy romance, one of them seems guarded and unsure, there is a villain of some sort, and you might shed a tear or two. The Notebook is by far the best of his adaptations. Every piece of that movie worked. Zac Efron is still branching out from his post-Disney career and tries to take on more gritty adult roles. Unfortunately, this role doesn't quite suit him. He plays the role far too guarded and on edge making Logan very one-noted. He rarely comes out of his shell making the romance between him and Beth a little forced on her end. He could have played him more outgoing and open while still maintaining the mystery of why he is there and the feeling that he is a bit off. Unfortunately, this affects the chemistry between the two characters. I felt like I could never completely fall for them as a couple with him being so shut off. The character of Keith is also written poorly. He comes off as merely the angry ex without any expedition or reason why he acts that way. Taylor Schilling and Blythe Danner make the movie work. Schilling is terrific as Beth. She has a very emotional rollercoaster of a scene in the rose garden as she struggles with the loss of her brother. Danner steals the movie as Grandma Ellie. She has some very funny one-liners and glances directed at Beth. The Lucky One has some great qualities going for it, but there are some stumbles along the way.

RATING: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)

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  1. If you love all of the Nicholas Sparks movies, then you'll love this sappy crap. However, if you hate that kind of stuff, then you will absolutely hate this movie. I did the latter, even though I think that Efron and Schilling try their hardest with this material. Good review Paul.

  2. Dan-
    Thanks for reading! Yes, it's definitely true that it's a very Nicholas Sparks movie and you know what you'll get if you've seen his other movies. I'm glad you enjoyed Blythe Danner in it. I left a comment under your review as well.