By Erykah Brackenbury – The Lucky One is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel and therefore cynically designed to make women’s ovaries go wibble.
By Erykah Brackenbury
The Lucky One is
based on a Nicholas Sparks novel
and therefore cynically designed to make women’s ovaries go wibble. This pulls
out all the stops by casting human Ken doll Zac Efron, an annoyingly
precocious blond child (Riley Thomas Stewart) and, just to cover all
eventualities, some dogs.
Our hero Logan survives an attack in Iraq down to having
wandered off as he found a picture of Beth (Taylor Schilling) in the
sand. Upon his return, he decides the best thing to do is to walk a few
thousand miles in order to stalk Beth, a woman allergic to trousers. Or thank
her, as he initially claims, but deciding to live and work with a woman you
only know from a photo is decidedly creepy. Sadly, we live in a post-Twilight age where stalking is somehow
romantic rather than f*cking terrifying. It also seemingly helps if you pursuer
looks like Zac Efron rather than John Hinckley Jr.
Amazingly, the only one to point out the inappropriateness
of this behaviour is the antagonist, Beth’s ex-husband Keith (Jay R.
Ferguson), who’s immediately shot down due to being a two-dimensional
pantomime villain. Our heroine’s only concern is the photo belonged to her
brother, rather than the mentally dubious behaviour displayed by our romantic
Any plot points which could lead to anything involving depth
of character are cast aside in favour of the romance. It is implied Logan has
PTSD, which is promptly forgotten about within ten minutes (turns out all you
need is a dog to cuddle and all your worries will be over). The heroine’s wise
sage grandmother (Blythe Danner) mentions a stroke she had a few months
back which is never mentioned again. The only explanation for this is that
producers realised everyone expects a death from a Nicholas Sparks film and
therefore planned a cunning double bluff. Particularly as most people Beth
holds dear have dropped dead before the film starts. Beth, having been careless
enough to lose both parents and her brother, now has ample fodder for the
inevitable relationship crisis point in act three…
Ferguson, having confirmed his acting credentials through
two years of Mad Men is a hackneyed
villain of such dubious motivation he becomes laughable. His role involves
nothing more than to snarl menacingly and glower. The film revolves around meaningful looks that provide
unintended comedy. Most notable is Beth washing up in a Freudian and suggestive
Metaphor abounds in this film, presumably to keep the
ratings low enough for Efron’s tween fans to boost box office takings. Notable
is Beth’s ‘boat’, which hasn’t worked for years due to various griefs. However,
with time, patience, and TLC, Logan manages to quite literally get Beth’s motor
running once again.
A major problem with The Lucky One as a romantic tale
is there is little chemistry between Efron and Schilling, regularly both being
out-acted by the annoying child and the dogs. Some initial animosity is tacked
onto their relationship, adding some clichéd ‘will-they-won’t-they?’ tension
before they inevitably do. They make a dull couple, though Schilling’s
blandness allows hormonal teenagers (and menopausal women) to easily imagine
themselves in her place. In a rare example of the female gaze, the film is
aimed at an audience who are paying to see Efron take his clothes off and get
wet, which he does in abundance, sometimes achieving both simultaneously. Much
has been made of the fact Efron bulked up to play an ex-marine and, at least in
this respect, does not disappoint.
With all the loose ends tied up neatly by the end of the
film with minimal emotional trauma for all involved, The Lucky One is
bland, clichéd, and dull. ‘Romance’ need not be a synonym for ‘absence of plot’
and unless you have a burning desire to see Efron in his pants, this film never
escapes the level of ‘daytime TV movie on Channel 5’.