The Lucky One
I promise I’m not going to begin this review with a joke about how “the lucky one” was the one whose car broke down on his way to see this movie. I swear I’m not going to.
The Lucky One, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel by the same name, revolves around Zac Efron’s portrayal of Logan, an emotionally wounded Marine who believes that he only survived his time in Iraq because of a picture of a beautiful and unknown woman that he found on the battlefield. The picture is with him on multiple occasions in which he probably should have been killed, but he was miraculously spared.
After coming home to Colorado to live with his sister and her family, he realizes that he needs something different. He plays a little detective work with a lighthouse that appears in the picture with his guardian angel, and he’s off to North Carolina to see if she could be more than just a lucky charm. By the way, he walks. He walks from Colorado to North Carolina. Oh, but he doesn’t break a sweat and his hair is perfectly coiffed when he arrives.
This is where the story really begins when Logan, after asking around town, finally meets Beth, played by Taylor Schilling. Beth owns and operates an animal shelter with her grandmother Ellie, played by the lovely Blythe Danner who delivers a solid performance despite the lack of material. Beth also has a son Ben, played by adorable Riley Thomas Stewart. When Logan cannot bring himself to tell Beth the real reason that he is in North Carolina, he winds up accepting a job at the animal shelter.
It turns out that Beth was married to the town Sheriff Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), whose brooding performance is topped only by his one-dimensional writing. Keith hates Logan from the beginning, because Logan begins really hitting it off with Beth, and because he begins forming a very close relationship to Beth’s nine-year-old son Ben (probably because of their proximity in age). Will a light be shed on Logan’s now secret photo of Beth? Will Beth still want to be with him when it is? You can probably guess the answer to these questions and more.
And this is one of the major problems with the movie: its predictable, cookie-cutter (even for a Nicholas Sparks story) dull, one-note template. There are literally zero surprises, from opening frame to end credits. Not only is the audience eight steps ahead of the script, but there is virtually no chemistry between Efron and Schilling, and the remaining characters are either painfully dull or have nothing to do the entire movie.
Efron is not the worst actor in Hollywood by a long shot, but he just feels miscast in this film. From the very beginning, you never believe that he’s a Marine. The filmmakers, it appears, tried to solve this problem by showing him primarily in extreme close-up and having him furrow his brow and look like an injured puppy. Unfortunately, he never seems more like a Hollywood star playing dress-up. The fact, however, is that this would be forgivable if there was any chemistry between Efron and his female lead. There is not. They are both two very attractive people who, aside from one steamy scene, show little attraction towards each other and seem to be acting in two different movies.
The Lucky One simply feels recycled. Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. Yes, this framework is tried and true, but it only works if there are original aspects in between these lines. There really are not any. The battle scenes are not gritty or visceral in any way, the relationships are forgettable, and the melodramatic acting gets old during the opening voice over. Unless you absolutely have to go to the movies for some reason and you already saw Chimpanzee, you can put The Lucky One on your “Movies I’m Glad I Never Saw” list.
Movie Review by Mike Danner