The Lucky One Review
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Ah, spring. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and romance is in the air. And that means that it’s time for another Nicholas Sparks romance—those melodramatic tear-jerkers that attract droves of women bearing tissue boxes. But the usual band of Sparks devotees may be surprised to find that this year’s release, The Lucky One, requires fewer tissues than usual.

The Lucky One stars Zac Efron as Logan, a Marine who’s recently returned from his third tour in Iraq. During the war, one thing helped him survive: a picture that he found in the rubble on the morning after a particularly rough mission. So, after returning home, Logan decides to find the mystery woman from the picture and thank her for getting him home alive, when so many of his friends didn’t make it.

Logan finds Beth (Taylor Schilling) in Louisiana—but when he finally meets her, he finds himself unable to explain himself. Instead, he takes a job at the kennel that she runs with her grandmother (Blythe Danner). Though Beth is still mourning the loss of her brother—another Marine—she eventually finds comfort in Logan. But her jealous ex-husband, Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), is determined to keep Logan away from both his wife and his son (Riley Thomas Stewart).

The Lucky One is the typical Choose Your Own Nicholas Sparks Movie. Boy meets girl in a dreamy Southern setting. Though they get off to a rocky start, they eventually realize that they share a passionate, once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. But then something gets in the way. And, of course, somewhere along the way, someone dies.

Still, while most Nicholas Sparks films have some kind of emotional tug to them, The Lucky One is about as stiff and unnatural as Efron’s performance. It simply goes through the usual steps to tell the story, plodding along with characters that are barely developed and acting that feels like something out of a cheesy high school play. Even the token death, when it does come, feels more perfunctory (and even ridiculous) than emotional.

The characters are flat and stereotypical—like Efron’s Logan, who’s little more than the shadow of a character. He’s hard-working and handsome (though the patchy facial hair doesn’t do him any favors), but he’s stiff and awkward, with little or no personality. Beth, meanwhile, is just a magnet for tragedy, haunted by the ghosts of pretty much everyone she’s ever loved (except, of course, for her wise—and wise-cracking—nana). And her ex, Keith, is the most ridiculous character of the bunch: a menacing villain of the twirling-mustache variety.

But while the strong and silent hunk (with a sensitive side, of course) and the damaged young woman may seem to be the match made in sappy romance heaven, their story falls flat. It isn’t nearly as tear-jerking as Sparks fans expect—and they may be surprised to walk out of the theater with Kleenex boxes intact.

Of course, if you’re just looking for a little bit of springtime romance to watch with the girls, The Lucky One fits the bill. But this slow and mechanical love story lacks the moving melodrama to turn it into the sob-fest that you might be hoping for.

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