Nicolas Spark novels are nothing if not predictable — damaged but nevertheless perfect couples, trying but nevertheless perfect love stories, set in a perfect setting. But hey, that’s what the ladies want, so who am I to tell the author to try something different? So yeah, “The Lucky One”, the latest sparks novel to get the Hollywood glossy treatment, is nothing you haven’t seen before, but at least it looks damn good, thanks to director Scott Hicks (“Shine”) and two ridiculously attractive leads in Zac Efron, playing a damaged war vet (are there any other kind in Hollywood?) and Taylor Schilling as his object of obsession. “The Lucky One” soldiers onto DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Bros. on August 28, 2012.
Based on Nicholas Sparks’ bestseller The Lucky One, Zac Efron stars alongside Taylor Schilling and Blythe Danner in this romantic drama directed by Academy Awardr-nominated writer/director Scott Hicks. U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Efron) returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive-a photograph he found of a woman he doesn’t even know. Learning her name is Beth (Schilling) and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm.
Babyface Zac Efron as a Marine. Yes, well, either go with it or don’t, that’s really all I can tell you. Fortunately, he doesn’t stay in uniform for very long, so you won’t have to spend too much time wrangling over the question. In fact, the film’s entire Iraq segment takes place pre-title sequence, and is over in a jiff. Soon, Logan is back in the States and setting off on a quest to locate the woman in the picture that he believes saved his life. Honestly, though, I’m not sure if Logan actually believes this, but everyone keeps telling him, so he sorta buys into it. Hell, everyone can’t be wrong, right?
When he eventually finds the woman in the picture, ol Logan has a little trouble telling her why he’s sought her out. Hey, you try telling a total stranger a picture of her saved you through a particularly dangerous tour in a war zone. Yeah, you’d sound a little crazy, too. Of course, Beth (Taylor Schilling) already thinks he’s kinda off his rockers, so maybe he really didn’t have a whole lot to lose. Logan ends up hiring on as Beth and her grandmother Ellie’s (Blythe Danner) new helper around their dog kennel. And for a while, things sort of just, well, work out. Beth eventually comes to appreciate Logan’s presence and help, her young son bonds with the vet, and besides a bump here and there (Beth’s good ol boy douche bag ex, a cop played by Jay R. Ferguson, for one), the two begin to fall in love.
There’s really not a whole lot of complications to “The Lucky One”. Okay, so they toss in some post-traumatic stuff for Logan upon his return home, but the guy is basically the perfect man. Beth, too, is the perfect woman — smart, attractive, and independent. The whole point of a movie like “The Lucky One” is for you to root for these two to finally accept that they’re perfect for each other and get on with it already. Which, yes, they eventually do get on with it. Unlike previous Nicholas Sparks novels, there’s really not a major twist that would doom this particular romance, so all you lovers of sappy, happy endings needn’t feel too guarded going into this. Is it a great movie? Yeah, if you love this kind of stuff. For the rest of you who enjoy things blowing up regularly, it’s probably not going to be your cup of tea, but then you probably already know that.
Efron is actually pretty believable in the role, but strangely enough, moreso out of uniform than the brief time his character is in fatigues and battling insurgents in Iraq. Then again, he didn’t really have a lot of time to “play” a Marine, so maybe that contributed to it. What matter is that he has good chemistry with Schilling, and the difference between their characters is played for good dramatic and comedic effect by director Scott Hicks. Blythe Danner provides excellent supporting work as Beth’s grandmother, and Riley Thomas Stewart as Beth’s son Ben is charming and precocious, but never movie-annoying precocious.
The Blu-ray Combo Pack comes with the film on Blu-ray and standard DVD discs. Special features include three featurettes, including “Zac Becomes a Marine” (6 minutes), which is basically what it sounds like — star Zac Efron learning how to become a believable Marine from actual Marines. “Watch The Sparks Fly: The Romantic World of The Lucky One” (6 minutes), dives into the process of turning the Nicholas Sparks novel into the movie. Sparks apparently wrote the book after seeing a photo, and crafting an entire story around it. The final featurette is “Zac and Taylor’s Amazing Chemistry” (5 minutes), which I thought is kind of a cheeky title. Shouldn’t we be the one to judge whether the chemistry is great or not? Fortunately it’s kinda true. Then again, how hard is it to fall for Efron if you’re a girl, and Schilling if you’re a guy?