The Lucky One

“The Lucky One” is the latest film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The man who’s brought us “A Walk to Remember”, “The Notebook”, and “Dear John” (among others) has inspired yet another big screen bodice ripper.

In it, Zac Efron is Marine serving in Iraq who finds a photo lying in some rubble moments before an explosion would have taken his life. Had he not moved to examine the photo on the ground, he would have been blown to bits. After the incident, he searches for the owner of the photo amongst his squad, but no one claims it. In the process of searching for who it belongs to however, he finds himself constantly carrying it… and the recipient of good luck and safe-keeping as a result. He begins to believe that the photo and the woman in it have been protecting him, and vows to find her once his service is over.

Of course, what he finds instead is the kind of romance that romance movie fan’s dreams are made of.

The Marine in question is played by Zac Efron. When he gets home from the war and has some trouble adjusting to home, he decides to walk with his dog across country to find the woman in the photograph. When he finds her (by locating the lighthouse in the background of the pic), he winds up landing a job as a hired hand at her dog kennel before he’s able to tell her the true reason he’s come to find her.

Gotta save some drama for later, ya know?

Efron’s Logan is a mechanically inclined ex-Marine, who plays piano and studied philosophy in college. He’s great with her kid and he’s pretty much the dog whisperer around her kennel business. Unfortunately, he’s practically a mute. The movie establishes that he suffered some traumatic stress over in Iraq, and a certain degree of his lack of verbosity can be attributed to that fact. But good God… the movie offers him about 18 different perfectly teed up moments to tell her about finding the picture, and he fumbles all of them. It’s a bit overwrought, especially seeing as in reality I’d imagine that a soldier whose life was really saved by a picture would unload that detail immediately. They’d be so full of gratitude that they’d be dying to tell the person.

Schilling’s Beth comes with a tremendous amount of baggage in the form of her testosterone addled ex-husband, who’s not only a police officer in the town, but also wired in to the local political and judicial scene through his powerful father. He’s borderline abusive, and jealous as hell of Efron. She’s protective of her young son, and still fearful of her ex. She lives with her Grandmother

These movies are designed to be felt emotionally and not thought about. Everything is either rain-soaked or dappled in golden sunlight, and a constant stream of mood-soaked music informs you how you’re supposed to be feeling. There’s no degree of emotional subtlety anywhere to be found. The “villain” flies off the handle into rage. Tears flow easily when the situation turns sad. When the time comes to hook up, things get thrown around. It’s like they had a movie mixing board in the creation of this film, and they turned the “Emotion” dial up to ten, and turned the “Nuance” dial down to zero.

But that’s ok, I knew what I was getting into, and so will most of the people who go to see it. I was actually ready to give it a decent grade (I mean, nothing overboard…) pretty much til the end. It had kept the sappy dialogue to a minimum, even though Efron does tell her she “should be kissed every hour, every minute, every second”… I mean, I’ve told women stupid shit like that too, at times. (When would she eat?) Anyways, they kept the syrup to an acceptable level, and the acting was all pretty good, Blythe Danner was great, it wasn’t all that insufferably terrible… but then they wrap it up with one of the must overblown, obviously contrived endings I’ve ever seen, just so that Efron and Schilling’s characters can proceed with their romance squeaky clean.

For fans of pheromone fueled, logic free fantasies like this one, it delivers in spades… I’m certain you’ll enjoy it very much.

For the rest of us, it’s every bit the over-romanticized schlock you imagine it would be.


33 thoughts on “The Lucky One

      • Yeah. I was hoping it would be more in the 30-50 range like Dear John and the Notebook, but i guess this one was really just that bad. Hopefully The Paperboy gets a more even amount of critical and commercial success.

  1. I literally just walked in the door from this movie. I went with my 18 year old daughter. We both liked the movie well enough, but b

  2. I literally just walked in the door from seeing this movie. I went with my 18 year old daughter. We both liked the movie well enough until the end too….we thought the whole rescue scene was a little….. “ummm….come on, yeah, right?!?!”. If only the kid didn’t run out of the house…..then what would would happen? I thought for Zac’s big break out role as an adult….there could have been a bit more dialogue thrown his way. But he was okay with what little they gave him.

    When Beth “attacked” him while he was washing his hands…. I chuckled to myself, “Dan is right! There is always at least one scene in a romance movie where they are soak and wet. Haha. Where were the swans?

    I think I would rate this slightly higher, B- but I pretty much agree with everything you said.

  3. I’m not an anti-romance, or action movie only, kind of guy but I wasn’t planning on seeing this movie anyway. It didn’t seem clever enough to draw me in. I saw the previews and thought that the premiss was acceptable, but wasn’t strong enough for me expect a good solid movie. Sounds like I may have been right.

  4. I blame Disney and Nicholas Sparks for my high expectation on romance. I think this storyline is kinda ridiculous. If the girl wasn’t pretty, Efron would’ve died. If Efron wasn’t so hot, she would’ve thought he was a crazy military stalker. Come on, he walked across country to find this lighthouse, doesn’t that sound crazy? My female spiderman senses are tingling…red flags. LOL

    • LOL.

      Except when he shows up he pretty much does everything but cook.

      He fixes everything they own, does all their work in their kennel with the dogs, plays with her kid, makes her mother happy and keeps his mouth shut.

      If I didnt KNOW who wrote it, I’d’ve sworn a woman had 😀 LOL

  5. I’m sure you know I only read your review to see if you had any good snarks, and you didn’t disappoint. “When would she eat?” Classic. 😀 You know, I’d almost be willing to sit through a romantic comedy if they’d just include the comedy with lines like that, because you have to figure more people than not would retort with something like that.

    • I need to go back to Chick Flick City and do another running commentary on one of these.

      My favorite part about the movie is that they pretty much made Efron’s character a “Dream Man”. He can fix everything (and does) He takes care of her dogs, is great with her kid, and then he plays piano, chess, and studied philosophy. LOL Oh, you know, and the whole Marine thing. 😀

      Realism. Not Nicholas Sparks’ strong suit.

  6. This movie is drop-dead terrible, as all of the Nicholas Sparks adaptations are but this one pissed me off the most. They don’t offer anything new or original here at all, it’s just a bunch of sappy romance scenes tied together by a thin plot filled with thin characters. Good review Fogs. This one just was really bad.

    • Yeah, saw your lamb score. LOL.

      I gave it a 2 and I have the feeling I’m going to wind up being its “Champion” – the person at the top who apparently liked it the most! 😦

  7. True story– I’m 99% sure I went to Middle School with Taylor Schilling, Zac Efron’s co-star here. I’m trying to find my Middle School yearbooks to see if I can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, but she went to school in Wayland (where I went to Middle School), we were born the same year, and her name is completely ingrained in my mind. I know her somehow if not through Middle School.

    Oh, sorry, yeah, I don’t have anything insightful to say about this. At all. I am deeply sympathetic to your having seen it, though.

    • Thanks Andy. I dont know, whatever, I’m starting to get used to sucking it up and sitting through shite movies for the sake of the blog…

      Schilling did well, cant put any of the onus here on her. She was fine.

      It’d be a trip if you did go to Jr High with her though. LOL!

      • If I’m right, then she is (or at least was) very nice. So hopefully this film does well and she can do better things with her time than churn out nothing but studio-forged rom-com garbage.

        And yeah, I know what you mean, but hey– watching bad movies is good for us as film writers. Nothing better than a perceived bad movie that turns out to be good, I say, and besides, writing negative criticism is a LOT of fun.

      • It CAN be, yeah, but I think even then, it’s gotta connect somehow.

        I understand the negative criticism is fun thing I’ve had some reviews where I just really had fun mocking or deriding, sure.

        But there are times? Like this one? Where its all laborious. You know? Watching it AND the review. Thsi one took me awhile cause I just didnt wanna push through it. 😀

        I hear ya though…

  8. I’m sure the C grade you gave it is well-deserved. I’m definitely not sacrificing my time to watch it so I thank you for making it even more clear to me. It just looks way too nice, too corny, too cute.

  9. I asked all the women who I knew saw this movie their opinion of it. Here is the (non-scientific) data that I collected: :

    9 women said — It was okay, not too realistic, but mildly entertaining. (all these women are happily married for at least 15 years)

    12 women said “It was awesome, loved it.” (All of these women were either divorced or coming off a bad breakup)

    Just found it interesting….that’s my contribution for the day. 🙂

      • Glad i could add to your infamous blog with such facinating insight. Research Dept…. I like the sound of that. I didn’t set out to research, but then again, Ben Franklin was just flying a kite. LOL

        Just busting’ your chops. Haha

        Isn’t that weird though?!?!
        Bad relationship = love the movie

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