Last week, a friend and I decided to embrace our inner chick-flick and went out for an evening of rom-dram(a). That’s right, we went out to see The Lucky One.
The movie stars Zac Efron (of High School Musical fame) and Taylor Schilling as two semi-star-crossed lovers whose lives are connected by a seemingly — and only seemingly — random item. Does this sound familiar? Well, if you’ve seen or read The Notebook then it should; it’s another film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel.
And yes, it seems as though everyone involved in this production figured that you sort of know what you’re in for.
Logan, a soldier in Iraq, happens to meet up with another squadron on a night raid. He notes the nickname of the other sergeant: “Aces.” Some of the soldiers are killed. Next morning, he spots a photograph lying on the ground, walks over to pick it up, and thereby narrowly misses being killed by mortar fire. He decides the photo’s his lucky charm, and that he’ll thank the beautiful girl therein if he makes it home alive.
Surprise! He does. He’s troubled, something that’s only natural after several tours in combat. He tries living with his sister, but her children make life too chaotic. So he finds out where photo-girl lives by researching the lighthouse in the background. And then he walks there. To Louisiana, from Colorado. With his trusty German shepherd by his side.
And, surprise! He finds work at her place of business. Surprise! Her quiet, slightly nerdy son is just the complementary old soul he needs to meet. Surprise! Against her will and better judgment, and much to the chagrin of her ex-husband, she falls for him. She’s deep in mourning for her brother, a soldier killed the year before in Iraq. (Three guesses what his nickname was.)
Now, my dear reader, you might get the sense that I did not enjoy this movie. Untrue! However, you should know that the most surprising thing which happens in this film is when the bad guy (the ex-husband, a deputy sheriff drunk on booze and his own power!) points his weapon at a dog. Until then, I waffled on whether he would be redeemed or killed in the end. (Three guesses.)
It’s beautifully shot. It sure seems that at least 3/4 of the thing was shot during the Golden Hour. The designers put a beard on Zac, to keep our minds off of High School Musical, and let him walk around looking handsome. The problem is, that meant it was about 50 minutes before anything starts to really happen. This wasn’t the most erudite script ever. But Blythe Danner stole all her scenes, and the little boy was charming. As my companion noted, “…it was pretty. People, scenery, light, everything was pretty.” And she was very correct! I thoroughly enjoyed looking at it. Walking out, I was smiling, saying, “now that’s what I call, ‘awesomely bad.'”
Had the film been about 20 to 30 minutes shorter, it would have been much better. As it is, though: If you’re in the mood for some romance (or just hiding from The Avengers), you could do worse than The Lucky One.