Oh Nicholas Sparks. Oh dear.
I respect your success and your ability to write love stories about attractive, white people. I admire the way you can make grown women cry with your words. I admire the money you’ve made writing romance novels that aren’t those weird Mills and Boon series or those now played out vampire love stories.
But I don’t think your books make very good movies.
I watched “The Lucky One” with some friends late one night because well, because Zac Efron. (I know that Zac Efron is mostly fawned upon by prepubescent girls who have never heard a song that hasn’t been Autotuned, but I think he has real talent. He can sing, he can dance, and he also has an unfairly attractive face.)
The movie starts off in Iraq. Zac Efron plays a Marine called Logan. We see a night raid, which is confusing because there is very little light and lots of shouting. Some people get shot. Logan doesn’t. It turns out to be relevant later on.
The next morning, he sees a photograph of a pretty blonde woman on the ground. Because he stops to pick it up, he narrowly escapes being blown up by a grenade or a mine or something. From then, this photograph becomes his good luck charm, and when he returns home and can’t deal with regular life, he goes walking.
In fact, he goes walking all the way from Colorado to Lousiana.
Of course, because it’s a movie, he homes in to her whereabouts. I’m not sure exactly how, because it was a montage, but I think he asked around? Man, sounds like America is a pretty small place.
Anyway, when he finally meets Beth, a divorced mother and very capable, independent woman (Taylor Schilling), he doesn’t know what to say.
“Hey, I’m a Marine and I found your photo in an Iraqi desert and I didn’t die. I guess your face is magic. Let’s make out.” probably just didn’t have the right ring to it.
Instead, she assumes he’s there for a job. And so begin the wacky hijinks and misunderstandings that you can pretty much predict will play out from there. There’s the douchebag ex-jock ex-husband who still lusts after his ex-wife and bullies our poor hero. There’s the little son who is terribly clever but who just needs to believe in himself. Of course, there’s that pesky photo, which seems to hint that Logan is uh, a stalker or something. And so on, and so on.
There are bits of narration and dialogue that, even to a person who has never read a passage of Nicholas Sparks in her life, are obviously straight out of the book. Romantic, sure. But it sounds overdramatic and kind of silly in the context of a movie.
I’m going to be honest, this movie’s main selling point is Zac Efron doing manly things like fixing things and driving tractors, tempered with him doing “sensitive” things like playing piano and reading and befriending Beth’s young son. (Also, at one point he takes his clothes off.)
If you are a ZEfron fan, you will probably enjoy it.
If not, and if you’re also not really a fan of soppy, formulaic romantic dramas, I’d sit this one out.
Oh yeah, and: