Nicholas Sparks must be a millionaire by now. His ability to write eerily formulaic love stories that are clearly relatable have made him well-known and obviously, rich as heck. But that doesn’t at all give one valid reason to underestimate his awesome talent for writing some wonderful love stories. Movies like A Walk to Remember and Nights in Rodanthe are almost-classics that made some stars shine brighter, and it was all thanks to the works of Mr. Sparks.
Yet it is the latest movie adaptation of a Nick Sparks book: the Lucky One, that doesn’t seem as… classic as the others. It tells the story of a soldier who served in Iraq (Zac Efron) that finds a photograph of a pretty blonde (Taylor Schilling). This photograph ends up becoming a lucky charm to the soldier as it helps him get out of some sticky war-related situations that make for early action in the film. He eventually goes on a search for the lucky chick after serving, and ends up finding her. She turns out to be a single mom working a pet training place, and ‘obviously’, thanks to Efron’s character’s skill with his own pet: a German Shepherd, he gets the job, much to the chagrin of his lucky blonde. Yet as all love stories go, a once-awkward relation eventually turns into something more, and the rest is.. worth watching. Or not… just know that obstacles were encountered.
Despite his youth, Mr. Troy Bolton/Link Larkin has proven his worth as an actor in films like Charlie St. Cloud, yet he is not given much to work with, and as a result, he ends up having to shoulder the burden of a character with no genuine substance. His co-star Taylor Schilling, is three years older than him, and unfortunately it showed. It reminded me of the song ‘Stacey’s Mom’. It is the onscreen couple’s young co-star Riley Stewart (who plays Ben, Beth’s son) that keeps the film alive, not to mention veteran actress Blythe Danner (Gwyneth’s mom), as Beth (Taylor Schilling)’s mom.
Story-wise, the film suffers badly from misplaced scenes, the lack of continuity with usable characters (like the father of Beth’s ex) and a little too much sunlight. I left the movie house feeling quite unsatisfied, as the plot developments I expected hardly materialized, and I was left to see the standard-issue happy ending instead of seeing something different conclude the story. Another thing that made up for the dry story was the set design, which more than compensated for the actual substance (again, disappointing). I can’t say the dialogue gave me much satisfaction either, as I found myself surprised, and not in a good way. The talked-about love scenes were tasteful, yet awkward as I pictured Troy Bolton and not a mature Zac Efron making love to someone who was more than a year his senior. Katie Cassidy (who was considered for the role) would look better than Schilling in the role of Beth.
Overall, this movie leaves you feeling dry and nothing more. Not-bad actors forced to do bad acting, miscast characters and underdeveloped plot lines don’t make a good movie, and this is what the Lucky One shows us. One would probably be better off reading the novel, and imagining Logan Thibault and Beth for him/herself.
Rating: If you’re someone who follows movie adaptations of Sparks films the same way Harry Potter fans and now Hunger Games fans follow sequels, than maybe you’ll watch this, and realize that it’s the worst out of many Sparks books brought to life. It’s as simple as that.