The Lucky One is yet another addition into the never-ending parade of manipulative Nicholas Spark’s novels being translated onto the silver screen. While nearly all the entries suffer from the similar, obtrusive issues (in short, no romance or charm, just pandering fluff), I see no future where these films don’t continue to be made.
However, my biggest fear is not that The Lucky One becomes a commercial success, but that the demographic of which this film targets, truly believes that this is a honest representation of love.
Directed by Scott Hicks (The Boys Are Back) the film follows Logan (Zac Efron), a three-tour Marine grunt who – once relieved of his duties – heads to North Carolina to find an unknown woman that he found a picture of during his deployment in Iraq. In the delusional mind of this ex-Marine, Logan believes this beautiful, anonymous girl was his guardian angel through all the battle and bloodshed.
Naturally, after his 5-minute dramatized cinematic journey to her hometown, the two meet. This is where the film truly begins, and a relationship begins to form. What comes next may baffle any person with a lick of pragmatism: Logan travels across country to thank this woman for spiritually being there for him, in a time of desperate need. That part is clear, yes?
And yet, what follows is beyond ludicrous. Combine Hick’s hackneyed direction with a hint of Spark’s manipulative writing, and you have the protagonist unable to do what he set out to do for no real good reason. Instead, he finds himself quite literally stalking the lady in question (Taylor Schilling) and lying about his identity and the true purpose of his stay.
The Lucky One certainly doesn’t benefit from a character not being straight forward with the woman he ultimately falls in love with. To be candid, by constructing such a flawed and plainly obvious narrative, that could simply be resolved in the opening act, everything that precedes is difficult to conjure any emotion for. This is dramatic irony done incredibly poorly.
The fascinating question The Lucky One has to offer is the viability of Zac Efron as a leading man in an adult film. The actor, whose claim to fame is his leading role in the blissful High School Musical franchise, is once again moderately watchable here. Though, his stolid character spends most of his time walking around the wilderness (he works with Beth on the dog breeding farm), dazing up into the sky, and moping around as if he acted in that atrocious Charlie Saint Cloud movie (oh wait).
Few characters are developed. Schilling’s Beth is especially underwritten as a young mother who hasn’t been able to muster up the willpower to teach ever since her brother passed away. All of the melodramatic elements are strung together in a manner that will likely please its target demographic (ie. younger females who don’t mind paying $10 to stare at Efron for 90-minutes), especially by utilizing monotonous montages (a whopping seven of them, if I counted correctly).
But unlike even something as slight as The Notebook or Dear John, this movie is not in the slightest romantic. Surely it strives to be, but it perpetually fails miserably. Oddly, the title of this arithmetically paced, remarkably dull, and faulty romantic film, is The Lucky One. Which is strange, considering the only lucky one to come out of this movie is Zac Efron who got a nice paycheck out of this cinematic misadventure.
1.5 out of 4 stars
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