The Lucky One (2012)
May 14, 2012 2 Comments
After his third tour at some war or other and a few explosion that kindly left his face alone, U.S. Marine Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) finds himself struggling to return to normality. Having found a picture in the rubble during his deployment, his curiosity inadvertently saving him from near certain death, Logan decides to walk from Colorado to Louisiana where he has tracked the lighthouse from the picture on Google. Once there, he takes a job at an animal shelter with Beth (Taylor Schilling), the woman from the picture, a comical number of misunderstandings preventing the truth from instantly uniting them in love. Or something.
Before we get this review on the proverbial road (I had Efron build one earlier), an admission: I have never read a Nicholas Sparks novel. I haven’t even seen a film adapted from one. As such, I won’t be able to droll on about how all of his movies are the same, how The Lucky One doesn’t quite hold up to The Notebook, or how these particular characters compare to their many equivalents across his considerable output – a genre in its own right, or so I’m told. What I can do, however, is moan about everything else.
Whereas most romantic comedies might be intrinsically predictable, few go to such lengths to signpost every plot crease as Scott Hicks’ The Lucky One. Who is Scott Hicks, you might ask? Don’t worry about it, you are unlikely to have reason to concern yourself with that name again. From his trivialising of war (explosions happen in slow motion, so that Zac Efron’s cheeks wobble a bit as everyone else dies), through Logan’s incessant sanding and lifting and fixing, to its utterly preposterous finale, Hicks’ movie tells us absolutely nothing about our supposed heroes that couldn’t be gleaned from the film’s ultra-generic poster.
As the audience, we’re supposed to care about the love life of Efron’s battle damaged (for the first 20 minutes, at least) veteran because he owns a dog and eats apples, rather than because he’s actually interesting. We are supposed to root for Schilling’s unhappily divorced mother because she looks a bit like Leslie Mann. And we’re supposed to glare disapprovingly at Jay R. Ferguson’s jealous police officer because he doesn’t want his son developing girly talents like violin and the ability to read. Mills and Boon stuff, then, I imagine, as the barest characterisation and lazy plotting make as much room as possible for the two leads to stare longingly at one another.
Despite the prefabricated sexual tension and shamelessly post-coital mood lighting, however, The Lucky One has to be one of the least sexy love stories I have ever seen. Whether Beth is having a quiet moment alone amongst the dishes as she overlooks Logan lifting animal feed, or Logan is talking her out of destroying her own garden with some gym-honed body language, the moments of quiet sensuality are more often funnier than they are genuinely touching. The sex itself is even worse, a few brief thrusts in and around the house as Nana (Blythe Danner) looks on wryly from her maybe death bed. Fluff doesn’t even begin to cover it.
If you want to watch Zac Efron walk a dog, sand some wood, carry a bit of dog food, play some chess, inspire a few children, eat an apple, fix a house, play the piano, do a dance, repair a boat and risk his life for the sake of actual narrative, then this is the movie for you. If, however, you like to care about your characters, their individual journeys and their potential future together, rent out Charlie St. Cloud instead.