The Lucky One

Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling come together in the newly-released “The Lucky One.” The film is based on a novel written by Nicholas Sparks.

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Maybe it was my preconceived distaste for chic flicks. Maybe it was the fact the romance genre tends to stick to a predictable formula. Maybe as one of the only males in the audience, I felt uncomfortable. Or, maybe, “The Lucky One” really was just that bad.

Still, it appears the film had enough appeal to open at second place at the box office over the weekend, grossing almost $23 million, ironically falling only to “Think Like a Man.”

The film, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, follows U.S. Marine Logan Thibault (Zac Efron), who narrowly escapes death while serving a tour in Iraq. Thibault attributes his good fortune to a picture of an unknown woman he discovered shortly before the explosion occurred.

Following his tour, Thibault vows to find the woman he believes delivered him from death. After spanning several states by foot, Thibault eventually ends up in Louisiana, where he finds his lucky charm, Beth Clayton (Taylor Schilling), a divorced mother with a young son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart).

Unable to reveal the truth about the photograph, Thibault instead begins working for Beth, who, alongside her mother, runs a dog kennel out of their home.

Despite some early hesitations, Beth finds an attraction to Thibault, and the two begin a fairy tale romance, threatened only by the untold truth about the photograph and Beth’s controlling ex-husband, Keith.

It was apparent early on, but ultimately throughout the entire film, that Efron’s performance wouldn’t lend the film any credence. It’s tough to mess up a line of dialogue consisting of only two or three words, but Efron pulls it off, and frequently. His line delivery is overly rehearsed and nothing short of painful to listen to. I could only assume the sniffling I heard from the audience was the direct result of another botched line by Efron, which indeed, was the saddest part of the film.

The plot development early on will have you feeling rushed. Within the first five or so minutes, we are given the film’s plot-driven goal: find the girl.

Who is this Thibault character who will lead us through a journey of destiny and ultimately find love? Should we even care if he succeeds?

By the end of the film, for myself at least, the answer is an unequivocal “no.”

Efron’s one-dimensional, emotionless performance betrays the romance genre, and likely has Mr. Sparks squirming in his chair.

The film’s initial development is so abrupt that Thibault manages to span 1,000 miles by foot, happen across a bar where he is told where to find her, and encounter Beth within a matter of on-screen minutes. I mean, I’ve heard of an ellipsis in continuity editing, but this is just ridiculous.

Even following Thibault’s arrival, the film offers little to no struggle on Thibault’s behalf to help develop him into a character worth rooting for.

Arguably the most touching moment in the film is when we see the vilified Keith watch his son play the violin in front of a church audience for the first time. Tears fill Keith’s eyes as he watches his son, and low and behold, we have seen a character change.

The moment is perhaps the only unexpected one to come in the film, as the rest could be easily, and justifiably, ad-libbed. The subsequent plot consists of nothing more than annoyingly repetitious lovemaking scenes, slow-motion melodrama, and the cliché push and pull of relationships to be expected in the romance genre.

Consider yourself “The Lucky One” if you pick another film.

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