‘The Lucky One’ Stays Lucky

I am a romantic drama skeptic; I can’t get past the cheesy plots, the exotic locations or the almost-too-beautiful actors to fully appreciate such films.

Therefore, it was extremely difficult to review “The Lucky One,” starring the oh-so steamy Zac Efron, without presupposing the waste of money I would be spending on endorsing such ridiculous movies.

However, all annoyance and hatred aside, I must say that I was actually pretty surprised with how much I didn’t hate “The Lucky One.” In fact, it is somewhat enjoyable.

Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the story follows US Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) and his quest to find the woman in a picture he came across while in Iraq. This photograph, which he swears brings him good luck, leads him to the small town of Hamden, Louisiana, where he not only meets his dream woman Beth Greene (Taylor Schilling), but also her shy 8-year-old son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart) and her abusive ex-husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson). The plot thickens as Thibault and Greene fall in love, much to Keith’s dismay.

The acting, as to be expected, is less than desirable. Although there were not as many shirtless sequences as I predicted, Efron does rely on his arms and abs to do most of the talking in scenes .

However, a few choice lines of his are delivered with artistry, and, although it is almost completely impossible to separate him as a more serious actor compared to his Disney days, he still performs much better than I thought possible.

The best performance in the film is no doubt by seasoned actor Blythe Danner, who plays Greene’s supportive grandmother. As to be expected, she carries the movie with her few but poignant lines, reminding the audience that acting chops outweigh abs any day.

Filmed in the beautiful bayous of Louisiana, the film’s cinematography is another surprising aspect that made me appreciate the film even more.  Although some scenes experiment a little too much with out-of-focus shots and unusual angles, all in all I was still surprised at the effort put into creating such unique shots, compared the to lackadaisical film direction used by most romantic dramas.

This movie should only be seen if you are able stomach the classic Sparks’ novel combined with over-visualized scenes and under-utilized acting.

However, keeping that in mind, this particular romantic drama, compared to some of Sparks’ other recent book-to-movie transformations such as the disastrous “Dear John,” is much better, and even has its few moments of actual comedy, sweetness and sorrow.

If you are the clientele that is catered to for such romantic dramas, I recommend seeing “The Lucky One.” If you are a disbeliever, as I was, I also recommend giving this movie a shot, but just don’t go in a particular critical or bitter mood. This movie is more for those who can handle simplicity without feeling like they have completely wasted their money.

Rating: 3 out of 5