Another day, another Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Seriously – how many have there been now? At least six that I can name off the top of my head (The Notebook, Dear John, Message in a Bottle, The Last Song, The Vow, A Walk To Remember, Nights in Rodanthe…geez, seven?). Still, they always attract the fans of the books and previous movies alike.
I can’t recall the last time I read a Nicholas Sparks book, and honestly I would like to keep it that way. Don’t get me wrong, they are lovely; however, I can only take crying over the same plot line told twelve different ways so many times. In any case, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the sappy plot, predictability, and cheesiness that came out of this movie.
Logan (Zac Efron) is a young Marine, who, through three tours of duty in Iraq, has survived the unthinkable. He attributes his luck to a found picture of a woman that he picked up from a pile of rubble left from a night raid. Upon his return to his home in Colorado, he decides to set out on a search for this woman to thank her for the luck she gave him while in battle. After a long walk with his trusty German Shepherd Zeus, he finally arrives in Hamdon, Louisiana.
Upon learning the identity and location of the woman in the picture, Logan sets out to meet Beth Green. Beth (Taylor Schilling) is the owner of Green Kennels, a training and boarding facility for dogs, and mistakes Logan to be interested in the open position they have. Logan, unable to explain himself, accepts the position.
If you have ever seen a Nicholas Sparks movie before, you know exactly what happens from here. For those of you who are unfamiliar, I will give you the condensed version (Warning: Possible Plot Spoilers):
Mutual attraction leads to several steamy sexual encounters (none of which include any shots of Zac Efron‘s abs). Another man gets jealous, then tries to foil the connection they share. Beth begins to doubt Logan’s sincerity, to which he must then reveal the secret he has been keeping from her. She is hurt and angry, and pushes him away, only to realize later that such was a mistake. If you can’t guess the ending from here, God help you.
There were a few things that made me like this adaptation more than the others that have come before it. First, the acting was so much more vibrant and emotional in this movie than it has been at previous attempts. Unfortunately, several of the last leading parts have been severely miscast (Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried in Dear John/Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth in The Last Song). In my opinion, those roles were doled out in attempt to draw in moviegoers who were fans of those actors, not because of the fact that they were good actors, or a good fit for the role. Thankfully for The Lucky One, the on-screen chemistry was spot-on, and not only for leads Efron and Schilling, but for the supporting cast as well.
Blythe Danner plays Beth’s grandmother, Ellie Green, and provides a great sense of comedic relief – but in a subtle, relatable way. Riley Thomas Stewart was perfectly cast as Ben, Beth’s precocious seven-year-old son. His presence on screen was always impressive, and he brought a lot of depth to his character for such a young actor. Additional cast members include Jay R. Ferguson as Beth’s steely ex-husband and current police officer Keith Clayton, and Adam LeFevre as Keith’s father, Judge Clayton.
Another thing that made this movie enjoyable was the attention to detail. Many times a movie will introduce plot lines and sub plots, yet it will fail to follow through on the details. The writing was really excellent in that way, and made the movie much more enjoyable to watch, as I didn’t spend the entire time trying to connect the dots or seethe in annoyance and anger.
I can’t say this adaptation reaches the caliber of say, A Walk to Remember or The Notebook, but it definitely reached far beyond the failures that were Dear John and The Vow. The cast was fresh and had amazing chemistry, and for a recognizable sappy plot, there was a lot going on that was incredibly relevant and very thought-provoking. And, sadly, my largest complaint is the lack of a shirtless Zac Efron – which, to be frank was the largest motivator to get me to see this movie.
I would say if you are looking for a movie to see with your girlfriends (and you haven’t gotten sick of the same plot line for the eighth movie), this is a great pick for a weekend flick; otherwise, stay in and catch The Notebook on Netflix.
The Lucky One – 7/10