Another film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel? Yes that’s right…… Check out our review of the cookie-cutter romantic drama The Lucky One after the jump.
Zac Efron stars as Logan, a soldier who owes his life to a photo he found in the war zone…. that’s right – the actual act of retrieving and viewing the photo of an unknown beautiful woman (Taylor Schilling) saves him from an explosion which takes the lives of other soldiers nearby. Logan comes back from the war and decides that he needs to find the woman in the photo and thank her for saving his life. He easily tracks Beth down and discovers she is a beautiful single woman with an annoyingly awkward son (Riley Thomas Stewart), an oh-so-wise mother (Blythe Danner), and a bastard of an ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson) who has serious control issues. Instead of telling her about the photo and his quest to find her, he takes a job working for her as a farm hand/handyman; and then of course, soon after they fall madly in love. Queue the easy listening music, watercolour painting-like photography, and looks of lust and longing.
This film is bad on so many levels. So let’s start with the couple of things that were good. Surprisingly Zac Efron is quite believable in this role, and he does a good job with the terrible material he has. He makes a real effort to add life and heart to his ridiculous character. The second and final positive is the war scenes at the beginning of the film. They have great tension, which is coupled with high energy music to produce a few minutes of quite gripping action. That’s where the positives end.
Now for the negatives…..for a start, this film is utterly predictable and such a hard slog to get through. You can see what is going to happen just from looking at the poster, and the film does not offer a single surprise. While the film is boring, it is actually rather rushed and there is very little character development. The film jumps from moment to moment with little care of what happened before it or what will happen next. There feels like there are no stakes and it is impossible to be emotionally invested in the characters and the inevitable outcome of the story.
The undeveloped characters feel like they were drawn from the prepared box of romantic drama characters. Blythe Danner’s character is such a know-it-all, and she spends the entire film saying things in an “all-knowing” voice and giving people looks over her glasses. Beth is a boring character with no depth whatsoever – she is pretty to look at but she is otherwise so forgettable. She could have been lifted from any daytime television soap. The ex husband is the worst offender though – he is a parody of every angry useless ex husband ever written in film or books. His frequent ridiculous lashing out and random episodes of violence are so forced that it really does become a joke.
The easy-listening soft-rock music in this film gets to be way too much at times. We understand that the moments are lovely and filled with emotion and passion, but do they ALL need to be coupled with this music? If you don’t like this type of music then you might find this aspect of the film gets very old, very fast.
Ultimately this film is a cut and paste job. It is bits and pieces of every single romantic drama ever made, assembled into a random collage of a film. Everything in this film has been done before, and has been done better. Save yourself some time and money and don’t bother with this one. The film makes no effort, so you shouldn’t either. Ugh…
Director: Scott Hicks
Writer(s): Will Fetters (screenplay), Nicholas Sparks (novel)
Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner
Runtime: 101 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: April 19th 2012; USA: April 20th 2012