The Lucky One doesn't stray far from formulaic romance
Starring Zac Efron, Blythe Danner, and Taylor Schilling. Rated PG. Now playing
As a novelist, Nicholas Sparks has made a lot of money selling his soapy brand of chick lit to the movies. So it’s not surprising that the big-screen version of The Lucky One follows the same basic formula as The Notebook and A Walk to Remember. Director Scott Hicks keeps the mush rolling with the kind of glowing cinematography you see in commercials for Christian dating services.
As usual, the narrative is goosed along by a huge twist of fate. In this case, a young U.S. marine named Logan (Zac Efron) finds a picture of a young woman while on his third tour of Iraq. He comes to view the picture as a good-luck charm that’s allowed him to survive combat.
When Logan is discharged, he becomes determined to find out the identity of the woman in the picture. Because he is suffering from posttraumatic stress, he sees his mission as a way to heal a tormented soul. Eventually, he finds his mystery woman (Taylor Schilling), and she is the kind of gal who’s had her heart broken but still likes to walk around barefoot in summer print dresses.
The usual obstacles throw themselves into the path of true love (including a jealous ex-husband played with redneck zeal by Jay R. Ferguson), but the biggest stumbling block is Efron. Having built a successful career on playing irrepressible teens, he’s way out of his depth here. Looking beefy and sullen in a man-child beard, his idea of expressing emotional torment is to stare vacantly into space.
Some of the supporting performances are much more convincing (watch for Blythe Danner, who makes the most out of her thankless role as a plucky grandma), not that it really matters. This is the kind of thing that obliging women go to in pairs after window-shopping at the scrapbook store. They’ll like what they like and forgive the rest.