Nicholas Sparks is an award-winning author with his finger on the pulse as well as the heartstrings of readers of the romance genre. All of his 16 novels have been New York Times best-sellers, and 7 have been made into movies so far, most notably, The Notebook, Message in a Bottle and Dear John, each of which netted over $100 million at the box-office.
The Lucky One is his latest opus to be brought to the big screen, and this faithful adaptation will undoubtedly resonate with his legions of loyal fans. Directed by double Oscar-nominee Scott Hicks (for Shine), the film stars hunky heartthrob Zac Efron as Logan Thibault, a Marine serving his third tour of duty in Iraq.
At the point of departure, we find Sergeant Thibault pausing while on patrol in the desert to pick up a photograph lying in the rubble of a battlefield. Moments later, a bomb detonates up ahead on the spot where he would otherwise have been standing. Crediting the pretty blonde (Taylor Schilling) in the picture with saving his life, he vows to track down his guardian angel to thank her upon his return to the States.
Of course that proves easier said than done since, when Logan returns home 8 months later, he has enough trouble just readjusting to civilian life due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not only can't the quick-tempered vet hold down a job, but he even finds himself kicked out of the house by his sister (Courtney J. Clark) after his bizarre behavior starts frightening her kids.
The eviction is all the impetus Logan needs to embark on a cross-country trek by foot from Colorado to North Carolina, following clues pointing to the mysterious woman in the photo. Accompanied by his trusty German shepherd, Zeus, he tracks down the beautiful Beth Clayton in a sleepy town called Hamden where she runs a kennel with the help of her mother (Blythe Danner).
Logan's need of a job, a place to stay, a dog house and a life mate conveniently dovetail with the single-mom's need for a beau, a live-in employee, a protector from an abusive ex (Jay R. Ferguson) and a father figure for her neglected young son (Riley Thomas Stewart). Given the stunning number of coincidences, it's not hard to guess how this formulaic love story is going to end.
The big hang-up is that the knight in shining armor inexplicably lies instead of summoning up the gumption to explain exactly why he showed up at the object of his affection's doorstep unannounced in the first place. Pack a box of Kleenex for that watershed moment when he finally comes clean and the tears start to flow.
Another pat, paint-by-numbers masterpiece by Nicholas Sparks, the undisputed king of the syrupy soap opera.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and sexuality.
Running time: 101 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers
See a trailer for The Lucky One