Nov 12, 2014

Review: The Lucky One (2012)

You know, I don't think Zac Efron is that bad a guy. Most of his success came from the High School Musical series, but so what? He was just a heartthrob that Disney was able to milk for a while. Who wouldn't want to be paid to play that role for a while? It's true that he's maybe not much of an actor, but he just seems like an alright guy. I think that's because he's had personal problems recently that he's tried to fix and I admire that. Hope everything works out for him.

Anyway, Zac stars in what is the seventh Nicholas Sparks adaptation with Taylor Schilling. She doesn't have much to her name but has a few roles between TV and movies since 2007. She's now mostly famous for Orange Is the New Black. With Scott Hicks directing, will The Lucky One offer anything new as far as Nicholas Sparks romances go? Judging a book by it's cover is usually wrong but I'm sure you can already guess the answer.


Genre: drama, romance
Directed by: Scott Hicks
Produced by: Denise Di Novi, Kevin McCormick, Bruce Berman, etc.
Written by: Will Fetters
Music by: Mark Isham
Running time: 100 minutes
Production company: Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, DiNovi Pictures, etc.
Distributed by: Warner Bros., Village Films, Golden Village Pictures, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $25,000,000
Box office: $99,357,138 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart, Jay R. Ferguson, Adam LeFevre, Robert Hayes, Joe Chrest, Russell Durham Comegys, Sharon Conley, Ann McKenzie, Kendal Tuttle



Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) is a marine serving in Iraq. He manages to get through a deadly night raid where he watches a fellow marine get shot down right in front of him. The following morning, he finds a picture of a woman in some rubble moments before a mortar attack hits exactly where he was moments before. The picture becomes a lucky charm for Logan as he survives several close brushes with death. He promises himself that once he is finished his current tour of duty, he'll seek out the woman in the photo to thank her. 


I'm not really sure where to begin for this train wreck, so I suppose I'll just start with the story. Once we move away from the unimpressive military portion of the movie, we get shown just how fragile poor Logan is. He suffers from a bit of shell shock which isn't really surprising after three tours. It's just that Scott Hicks presents this in a very hamfisted way that ruins any attempt at drumming up any sympathy.

What bothers me immensely about The Lucky One is that hinges on one big miscommunication to make it go forward. We'll just ignore that Logan is somehow successful in locating the one girl he's looking for in all of the United States just from a picture with a lighthouse in the background. He finds Beth Green (Taylor Schilling) working at a dog training center in Louisiana and he can't get the words out to say thanks or explain why he's there. Why? Because Logan is a sensitive, low-key guy who has communication problems despite being in the army where communication is key. 

Beth thinks that he's there for a job so Logan just accepts. Because of Logan being unable to just say his thanks and be on his way, not once but multiple times, we get a whole movie where he will inevitably bond with Beth, fall in love with her and eventually be in the dog house because he didn't tell her the whole truth about his past and reason for being there. Although maybe I should've, I didn't stop the movie there. I kept going because I always finish what I started.

Funnily enough, there are quite a few similarities between The Lucky One and Safe Haven which came out a year later. Sparks can't afford to be too creative when he's got to churn this stuff out as fast as he can right? Both feature characters who have a kid (Spoilers) and there's also a jealous and alcoholic ex-husband/husband who happens to be a cop lurking around. (End Spoilers) Ex-husband Keith Clayton (Jay R. Ferguson) is comically bad that it's hard not to laugh. (Spoilers) There's an attempt at turning him into a flawed character who tries to do what's right at the end, but it's a weak effort and pretty badly developed. There was really little point in the attempt at all if you ask me. (End Spoilers)

Continuing on with the characters besides Keith, they're all pretty problematic. Logan is annoyingly "good" with his army past making him a defacto hero, but he also has a pacifist demeanour. Oh, let's not forget that he also has interests is philosophy, playing the piano, repairing anything mechanical and he can even train dogs which is super convenient. What a guy right? I can hardly tell you anything about the Beth character because she's largely unmemorable. Beth's mother is that typical wise old coot (Blythe Danner) we've seen many times before and Beth's kid Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart) is just there to be bring Logan and Beth together. Luckily he's less annoying than the girl in Safe Haven and less manipulative as well. 

I also can't forget to mention the dialogue because boy is The Lucky One a treat for those who get a kick out of awful dialogue like me. Zac Efron has to deliver some of the cheesiest lines I've ever heard. There's just no way that you could use those lines in real life without being ironic. Zac doesn't really put his best foot forward when it comes to his acting though. He spends most of his time with an expression blanker than a white sheet of paper, but at least he looks good right? Taylor Schilling is alright except when it comes to dramatic portions.

Scott Hicks tries to make The Lucky One nice to look at with some nice scenery shots of Louisiana but there really isn't much point. He's working with some of the most contrived and romantically weepy material you can imagine. Know how many montages there are? Six freaking montages. Six! Instead of properly developing a realistic relationship between Beth and Logan, we get a cheesy, schmaltzy affair that is weakly set up and ends predictably. I'm sure that The Lucky One will be a guilty pleasure for some, but to me this is one of worst Nicholas Sparks adaptations I've ever had to endure.



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