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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Lucky One | Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart | Review

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The Lucky One

The Lucky One is the latest book by best selling author Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) to be adapted to the big screen, which should draw millions of the predominantly female fans of his novels.

Directed by Australian filmmaker Scott Hicks (Oscar nominated for Shine) from a screenplay by Will Fetter (Remember Me) the romantic melodrama stars pretty boy/teen idol Zac Efron, the former High School Musical star, who now that he is 25 is moving on to more dramatic roles, although in this flick audiences will be more impressed by his appealing good looks than his acting ability.

Efron, looking buffed up and mature, plays Iraq war veteran U.S Marine Sargeant Logan Thibault, who believes a photo of a young blonde woman named Beth that he found in the rubble of a war zone is his lucky charm that repeatedly saved his life.

Returning to the states 8 months later, Logan is unable to adjust to civilian life while staying with his sister and her family. So, accompanied by his faithful German shepherd dog Zeus, Logan decides to embark on a cross country trek from Colorado to Louisiana to find the woman he feels in debt to for keeping him alive and to thank her.

Logan eventually locates single mom Beth at a dog boarding and training kennel that she runs with her grandmother Ellie (the wonderful Blythe Danner) in rural Louisiana. But, before he is able to tell her the reason for his visit, Beth takes over the conversation assuming he responded to a help wanted ad. In need of a job and a place to stay with Zeus, Logan quickly accepts and before too long he proves his worth as an all around fix it handyman and father figure to Beth's young son Ben ( Riley Thomas Stewart, who played Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson's young son in The Beaver) with whom he bonds.  Needless to say, Beth and Logan's friendship gradually develops into romantic involvement that is threatened by Beth's intimidating, bullying ex husband, Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), who happens to be town Sheriff as well as the Mayor's son.

The unfolding story is paced well. Unfortunately it sticks to the usual formula in a contrived and predictable manner.  All the characters are typical cliches.  Check them off:  the pretty, single mom with an adorable, precocious young son, the older supportive and wise mother/granny, and the jerk of an ex boyfriend/husband who has to create conflict.

Although easy on the eyes, Efron is miscast and not convincing as a war torn ex Marine and comes across as stiff, lacking emotional depth or range that the character deserves.  On the other hand, his pretty co-star Taylor Schilling (who resembles a young Robin Wright) is more facially expressive and does a believable job conveying the pain, loneliness and vulnerability of her character, who is still grieving the loss of a loved one.  However, Efron and Schilling do show nice chemistry and their love scenes are sweet, tasteful and beautifully depicted without any display of nudity.

As far as visuals, there is no arguing The Lucky One is a pretty, well shot film with exquisite cinematography byAlar Kivilo (The Ice Storm, The Blind Side) that captures the picturesque lush setting of the Louisiana countryside.

Just don't expect anything as closely moving as the film adaptation of Spark's emotionally riveting, heart rendering, The Note Book, which featured excellent performances by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.  Now, that was a love story!  If you are looking to be similarly swept away by The Lucky One, I am sorry to report you are out of luck.

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