Romance isn’t dead, but films like this Nicolas Sparks/Zac Efron schmaltzfest are giving it a bad name.
The Lucky One marks one hell of a windfall for the North Carolina Tourist Board. In this dusky Southern locale, the sun shines every day, the light is always low and golden, which means it’s permanently about four o'clock in the afternoon.
It also only rains once a year – for purely dramatic purposes, of course – and that brief storm is guaranteed to kill off the one person standing in the way of true love and destiny.
Meteorologically speaking, it’s an amazing state. You should book a holiday there immediately. But you still may want to pass on this movie.
This film is an(other) adaptation of a best-selling Nicholas Sparks novel. Sparks also wrote schmaltz classic, The Notebook, in which Ryan Gosling starred before he became a hipster icon. Both films are bland romances that undermine the glamour and grandeur that that word ought to evoke.
Yet, anyone who has been harbouring an inappropriate crush on the eternally 17-year-old Zac Efron will be delighted. Efron is not only no longer playing a jailbait role – he’s now a soldier with stubble and enough moody soulfulness to burn.
He plays Logan, a US marine who finds a photo of a pretty blonde among the rubble of an Iraq war zone. Convinced that the photo is the charm that kept him safe out there, he tracks down the woman (Taylor Shilling) in sunny North Carolina. She trains dogs, has a cute violin-playing kid and a bullying ex-husband.
Logan helps her with the dogs, falls in love and neglects to tell her about the photo. Which is convenient, because if he’d told her at the start there wouldn’t be anything for them to get emotional about in the climatic thunderstorm.
The Lucky One doesn’t reveal whether Efron he has any acting range whatsoever, as all he is required to do is stride around, showing off his muscles and his stubble while saying very little. His eyes are always large and wet, which is how we know he is tormented, thoughtful and passionate. Occasionally he breaks his silence to deliver wonderfully original lines like, "I do know that you deserve better than this".
Efron fans and Mills & Boon readers will swoon at his adorable manliness, while others will sigh and start loudly crunching their popcorn to see if they can drown out the worst of the dialogue. Romance isn’t dead, but films like this are giving it a bad name.
How bad can Nicholas Sparks and Zac Efron movie be?
Oh. This bad. We're going need more popcorn…
But at least it was nice seeing all that sunshine.