The Lucky One marks the seventh film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel to hit the big screen, and contains the author’s trademark romanticism, mixed with a healthy dose of destiny.
It tells the story of Logan Thibault (Zac Efron), a steely US marine who has just returned home after his third tour in Iraq, and credits his survival to a photo of a pretty blonde he found in the sand. Off he goes on a mission to find his guardian angel and thank her, but when he eventually tracks her down to a dog kennel in Louisiana, he chickens out of telling her the real reason for his visit.
He fortuitously lands a handyman job at the kennel which Beth runs with her wise (and wise-cracking) grandmother (Blythe Danner). The tried-and-tested formula of a couple resisting one another, before falling in love and then being driven apart is not strayed from with this adaptation. Conflict comes in the form of Beth’s hardnosed sheriff ex-husband (Jay R Ferguson), who tries to intimidate Logan into keeping away from his family.
The story unfolds in a fairly predictable fashion; moments of love and passion are interspersed with drama, while Logan shows himself to be the perfect guy time and time again. (He fixes things! He plays the piano! He’s good with kids and dogs! Is there anything he can’t do?)
Zac Efron is attempting to make the tricky transition from all-singing all-dancing High School Musical tween star to ‘serious, grown-up actor’ and although he’s certainly put in the effort with this role - bulking up 20 pounds to pass as a credible marine - I get the feeling he has more to give as an actor and was limited by the character and script. Luckily, genuinely cringe-worthy moments are few and far between (the standout one being “You should be kissed every day, every hour, every minute”) but overall, this lacks the charm of the most successful Sparks’ adaptation, The Notebook.
However, this is a great platform for relative unknown Taylor Schilling, who jumps out of the screen as Beth, a genuinely likeable and infectious character, and I can see her winning some interesting roles in the future.
This is certain to find its audience, who have come to swoon over Zac and his newly muscular frame, but the sweeping romance lacks that bit of magic to really draw you in.