MOVIE REVIEW – Nicholas Sparks is a very popular author amongst female readers and seems to have built a following. His book to be adapted into a movie was “Message in a Bottle” back 1999, which did well in the box office but not so well amongst critics. After his book “A Walk to Remember” was adapted and dismissed again, his book “The Notebook” was adapted and directed by Nick Cassavetes. “The Notebook” was met with kinder critical reception, not to mention a horde of love struck fan-girls. My point is that though Nicholas Sparks’s work has been hit or miss (a miss with his last two: “The Last Song” and “Dear John”) there is still potential for something great to come from his writing to the big screen, right?
Well, his latest big screen adaptation is “The Lucky One,” starring Zac Efron in the lead and Taylor Schilling as his love interest. The movie follows Logan (Efron), a Marine who finds a laminated picture of a woman (Schilling) on his third tour of duty in Iraq. He seems to draw luck from the picture as he survives many close encounters with death while at war. When he returns home, he decides to find this mystery picture girl. When he finds her, he struggles to explain his weird connection with the picture, and just falls in love with her instead.
Tasteful sex scenes and abdominal muscles ensue.
Now I’m going to do my best to sever Nicholas Sparks from this review. While this is based off his book, many filmmakers can make something completely different out of the source material.
The cinematography in “The Lucky One” is charming and sweet, though I feel the director needs to stop pointing the camera in direct sunlight. It had almost the exact same warm colors and camera angles you would find in “The Last Song” and “Dear John”, the key probably being to shoot exclusively at dusk or dawn.
There was a lot of charming dialogue delivered by the clever grandma character played by Blythe Danner, but that was about the extent of great acting. Zac Efron’s character falls short and appears awkward and disconnected at best. No room is left for character development and the forced romanticism suffers as a result. It’s much harder to fall in love with the characters when you don’t know them very well.
The story gains momentum in the first act before screeching to complete stop halfway through the second act. The viewer then has no choice but to be patient in while the climax is dangled in front of you in an odd attempt to build tension.
To no avail, the last act of the movie delivers a dramatic spin that struggles to deliver any emotion due to the lacking connection with the characters. At the end we are left with a less-than-gratifying conclusion that appears to limp to the closing credits.
“The Lucky One” is something that may appeal to Nicholas Sparks’s die-hards, but won’t translate very well to the general audience. I’ll even go as far as to say that fans of the book may be disappointed as well. At best, “The Lucky One” is a sappy love story that is sprinkled with minimal charm that staggers for an hour and a half in attempts to be called a great love story.