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STUDIO Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME 110 Min
– Zac and Taylor’s Amazing Chemistry
Yet another Nicholas Sparks adaptation starring a hunky guy.
Zac Effron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner,
Zac Effron comes home from war determined to find the woman he believes to be his lucky charm. The two begin to fall in love, but are given trouble by her ex-husband who wants custody of his son.
Lets get this out of the way: I enjoyed The Notebook. Sure, it was a paint-by-numbers drama that was marketed as every woman’s fantasy, but it was carried by some truly great performances from its leads and an above average script for that sort of thing. Not having any experience with any other Nicholas Sparks adaptations, I went into The Lucky One with reasonably high expectations. Boy, was I let down.
The Lucky One stars Zac Effron as Logan, a marine who has reached the end of his three full terms in Iraq. After surviving a number of near-death experiences, Logan comes home in search of Beth, played by Taylor Schilling, whom he believes was his lucky charm during the war due to a picture he found on a battlefield. Of course, Beth isn’t hard to find, and after a few scenes Logan and Beth are working together at a dog kennel owned by her mother, played by Blythe Danner. Romance blossoms as it tends to do in these kinds of movies, and Logan even wins over Beth’s shy musician son, Ben. Of course, Beth has an asshole of an ex-husband, who also happens to be a cop, making life difficult for Logan every chance he gets.
If all of that sounds awfully familiar, that’s because it is. The Lucky One doesn’t have an original frame in its running time, relying on the usual dramedy beats to draw the audience in. While this may sound like a knock against the film, I can’t fault it for knowing its target audience and aiming right for them. What I can fault it for, however, is doing so in such a lackluster fashion.
The Notebook was successful mostly because Ryan Gosling knows how to carry a movie. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Zac Effron. The man has one facial expression for the majority of the film and has no idea how to convey any sort of emotion without simply telling the audience how he feels. In fact, this is the main problem throughout. I was once told that cinema should be about “show, not tell”, and I agree 100%. The Lucky Ones doesn’t seem to understand that, as almost every plot point and emotional beat is explained to the audience through overlong scenes of exposition and dialogue. Why tell me that Ben is shy about playing his violin? Why not simply show him practicing and then suddenly put everything away when someone enters the room? It’d be a much more effective way of getting the point across, and it wouldn’t make the film seem dumbed down for its audience.
The rest of the cast fares a bit better than Effron, although they really aren’t given much to do. A lot of The Lucky One consists of supporting characters either talking about or crying over the same emotional beats over and over again until Effron shows up again to make it all better. It’s clear that the filmmakers really wanted to bank on Effrons marketability, but its unfortunate that almost everyone else in the film is exponentially more talented than he is. In fact, the only supporting actor who truly shines is Blythe Danner. She’s given the only scenes in the film that are worth watching, and most of these are due to her delivery and charisma rather than anything actually going on in the film.
The film was directed by Scott Hicks, and for the most part all of the proceedings are fairly competent. The majority of the movie is filmed much like a soap opera, which suits this sort of thing. However, the movie is book ended by a pair of action scenes, one in Iraq and one over a roaring river as a bridge begins to collapse. Both of these are filmed so chaotically that I could barely tell what was going on most of the time. Hicks seems to think that shaky cam and blur effects are an effective way to show “action”, when in reality they just frustrate the audience, especially when the rest of the film is so calm. These scenes end up feeling out of place rather than thrilling.
It is possible to effectively convey a Nicholas Sparks novel on the big screen. Sure, it’ll still pander to a very specific audience, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a “bad film”. However, The Lucky One is not one of these effective translations, as it relies entirely on the attractiveness of its lead to keep people in their seats. A few good performances aren’t enough to recommend this one to anyone but the most diehard fans of the book. Everyone else, save yourself some time.
The film looks fine on blu-ray, with a clean transfer that almost seems too good for a film like this. It’ll look nice on a high def setup, but nothing happens in the film that you’ll want to show off to your friends.
The only extra is a short fluff piece about the chemistry between Effron and Schilling. Apparently, the two got along amazingly well on and off camera, making the movie a joy to be a part of. It’s too bad none of that came across in the final product, huh?
Out of a Possible 5 Stars