“The Lucky One” (2012) Movie Review
Independent Films, Movie Reviews, Interviews, Film Profiles
Nicholas Sparks is a good storyteller. His prose digs deep into the male and female psyches which makes his books intriguing and moving. Most romantic melodramas just favor the point-of-view of the female character so it’s quite refreshing that Sparks understands both sides.
Sadly, the film adaptations of Sparks’ work, with the exception of “The Notebook,” fail to match his fine writing style. Most filmmakers adapting his novels dive right into the story without much care for the characters. That is the inherent problem of the latest movie based on Sparks’ novel, “The Lucky One.”
Zac Efron channels fellow Sparks alumnus, Channing Tatum of “Dear John,” to play our hero, U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault. The actor bulks up and grows a beard to tell us he wants to be taken seriously as a leading man. Yes folks, his “High School Musical” days are long gone.
I was curious to see how director Scott Hicks (“Shine”) and scriptwriter Will Fetters (“Remember Me”) would adapt the novel. “Shine” was a well-told story with a great Oscar-winning performance from Geoffrey Rush while “Remember Me” was an underrated but effective movie starring a capable Robert Pattinson.
But both Hicks and Fetters failed to make “The Lucky One” an entertaining romantic drama. Like many movies based on Sparks’ novels, this one has a pedestrian plot riddled with clichés.
Similar to “Message in a Bottle,” the narrative of “The Lucky One” is propelled by a found item. This time, it’s a picture of a woman Thibault finds during his third tour of duty in Iraq. He does not know her, but he credits her image with keeping him alive. She becomes his lucky charm.
The scenes in Iraq were directed with enough intensity that you might feel you’re inside “The Hurt Locker.” The first act is needed for us to believe that Efron is a courageous soldier. I would not lie to you but it took a while for the image of Efron as a combatant fighter to sink in.
“The Lucky One” has a big back story that the opening credits do not start until after ten minutes. The first act of the movie is commendable until we get into the predictable romantic drama territory.
One major problem is Taylor Schilling, the actress who plays Beth, the woman in the picture, does not spark any chemistry with Efron. She’s beautiful and has the makings of a fine actress but she looks more mature than Efron. So try as you may, you will not believe their pairing which is dangerous for a romantic drama.
The movie is also saddled with some unintentionally funny scenes. For instance, every time Efron struts around in his “I’m a soldier dude” attitude (and there are many scenes involving this, by the way) he’s accompanied by the ingratiating score by Mark Isham and Hal Lindes. It is effective in the beginning but the repeated usage invalidates its credibility.
But Efron’s passion deserves some credit. You could practically feel the actor’s enthusiasm emanating from the screen. And Blythe Danner as Beth’s grandmother, Ellie, is also noteworthy. She elevates the thinly-written character.
I also enjoyed the child actor, Riley Thomas Stewart, who plays Beth’s son Ben. He has great timing. Efron has more chemistry with Stewart and the dog, Zeus, than he does with Schilling.
You know exactly what you are going to get when watching a Sparks movie. “The Lucky One” is made especially for the fans of the author. If you’re a Sparks follower, then you’re indeed, the lucky one, at least when it comes to this movie.
RATING: “THE LUCKY ONE” GETS 2 KISSES
Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
In Theaters -- April 20, 2012
MPAA Rating -- PG-13 (for for some sexuality and violence)
Genres -- Adaptation, Drama, Romance
Run Time -- 1 hour 41 minutes
Distributors -- Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Director: Scott Hicks
Zac Efron -- Logan
Taylor Schilling -- Beth
Blythe Danner -- Ellie
Riley Thomas Stewart -- Ben
Jay R. Ferguson -- Keith Clayton
Adam LeFevre -- Judge Clayton
Year of Production: 2012
Country: United States