The Lucky One (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ (3/5)
Film Rating: ★ ½ (1.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: No chance. Unless he happens to be some big Nicholas Sparks fan, in which case – tell him to call me, maybe. (Zac Efron was in that music video, right?)
I have been talking about The Lucky One (2012) since I welled up with tears the first time I saw its trailer back in January. I was convinced this movie was going to be right up there with The Notebook in my eyes. I didn’t even read the book beforehand to eliminate any “book bias” when reviewing! But perhaps I should have read it, because without doing so, I felt disconnected from the story and just completely “meh” towards the whole thing.
Now, I created this site so that chick flicks can be reviewed for what they are meant to be. And I think I have done a pretty decent job at not reviewing them as seriously as films of higher caliber, and forgiving the creative liberties they sometimes must take (a la my reviews for The Vow and This Means War). But this film really had me scratching my head at
some a lot of points. So, I am going to break down The Lucky One bit by unconvincing bit. Excuse the longer length – I promise, it’ll be fun! Starting from the top…
Warning: I will spoil the entire movie for you. Even though the trailer beat me to it.
Zac Efron plays a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq, Logan Thibault. (It’s French, pronounced like Tebow. As in, Tim Tebow – which would’ve been a lot more Amurrican of a spelling, if you ask me.) The morning after a night raid, Logan finds a photograph of a pretty, blonde woman sitting in front of a lighthouse. As he examines it, an explosion goes off where Logan would have been standing had he not found the picture. He decides to keep the photo, which becomes his guardian angel – protecting him through all sorts of brutal combat. Upon returning home to his sister’s house in Colorado, he decides to make it his mission to find the woman in the photograph and thank her. After a really brief googling of lighthouses, he is able to determine that this woman lives in a small town in Louisiana. He then proceeds to take Zeus, his German Shepherd, and walk there. From Colorado.
Let’s stop there a moment. According to Wikipedia (only the most reliable source ever), there are over one thousand lighthouses in the US alone. And a lot of them look really similar! I mean, how different can 1,000 lighthouses honestly look? And whose to say this girl is American? What if she was British? There were British troops in Iraq and the UK has lighthouses too! Not to mention, she signed the back of the picture “Keep Safe. X.” And British people end everything with X’s. I worked at the BBC briefly and even my boss signed his emails to me with them… kinda creeped me out. But my point is: Americans use XO’s, and sparingly. British people use X’s, but everywhere. Wouldn’t Zac Efron at least consider all of this before hiking all the way to Louisiana?
And how ’bout that hike… Without stopping to eat, sleep, rest, and only using major highways which are illegal to walk on, Google Maps tells me that the walk from Colorado to Louisiana takes approximately 15 days, 9 hours. And that’s state line to state line. So realistically (if there is such a thing), that walk would take at least a month. Seems like an awfully long walk to find a woman that could have been on vacation when that photo was taken. And even if Logan can do the walk, there is no way that a dog who’s been house broken all his life would. I don’t care how loyal he is. My dog won’t even let me take him on the long route around our neighborhood before plopping his fat ass down and refusing to move anywhere but back in the direction towards our home. Nevertheless, Logan walks to Louisiana, stops in a bar, and shows the picture to a guy who happens to know exactly who this girl is and where she lives. Keep in mind, this is all within the first five minutes of the movie. I thought the search for her was going to a major part of it. Wouldn’t a movie about the journey a Marine takes trying to find the beautiful woman in the photograph that saved his life be so utterly romantic? Like, can someone make that movie, please?
So he goes to her home, which is also a family-run dog kennel business (so perf!), and comes face-to-face with Beth (Taylor Schilling): the woman in the photo, former wife of the town Sheriff, and mother to young Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart). Now, there would be no movie if Logan told her why he was actually there, so he chickens out and Beth mistakes him for a job applicant. He takes a job at the kennel, and the two of them develop a steamy relationship (duh) – much to the disapproval of her combative ex-husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson) who uses his power as Sheriff to threaten to take Ben away. During all this, Logan learns that Beth’s brother died in combat in Iraq, which may have been the result of friendly fire, so he decides to keep the photo a secret. That is until Keith raids his house, finds it, and convinces Beth that Logan was the friendly firer. As this all goes down, the gorgeous Louisiana weather rapidly switches to a torrential hurricane and an upset Ben runs away to his safe haven: a treehouse. (I don’t know about you – but the first thing my Momma ever told me was don’t climb a tree when its lightening.) Logan and Keith team up to save him – which they do – but the treehouse falls on Keith and his dead body floats down the river leaving Logan, Beth, and Ben to live happily ever after.
So what else bothered me about the above? Well, once I found out the photo was for her brother I was a little creeped out. It was just a weird photo for someone’s brother. If my brother went to Iraq, I’d give him a photo of the two of us as dorky kids. Or, if I was a mom like Beth, a photo of me and his nephew. Not a photo of me being all sexy in white by a lighthouse! But whatevs – I get it. Logan wouldn’t have fallen for her if he knew she came with baggage. I was also like, “What’s the big deal? Why won’t he just tell her about the photo? Doesn’t he realize any girl in her right mind would think that’s so hot?” But again, there’d be no movie if he did, so I mostly ignored it. Not a huge deal. Then there was the fact that the yummy sex scenes were marred by the art director’s bizarre choice to put one of those white, tulle princess canopy things over Logan’s bed. 8 year-old girls have those things over their beds, not US Marines! Mostly though, Keith’s death felt like a cop out (see what I did there?). Sure, he was a total psycho but that doesn’t mean he deserved to die! And what about poor Ben?! That kid’s gonna be in therapy for life knowing it’s his fault his dad got crushed to death by his treehouse. Alone, I may have forgave the ending. But combined with everything else, it was icing on the cake – and I’m talking one of those fancy Cake Boss cakes that look beautiful but taste like ass.
Now, I am perfectly aware that chick flicks should not solely be judged on how realistic they are. So since I gave this flick 3 hearts on the Chick Flick Barometer, there had to be some things I liked about it, and there were. I know Zac Efron gets panned by critics for his acting, and I was right there with them until I saw Charlie St. Cloud a couple of years back. He impressed me in that, and he continued to show promise here. Logan Thibault might not have been the most complex of roles, but I enjoyed watching him play the brooding solider who falls in love. And it certainly didn’t hurt that the role required him to heave around heavy packages of dog kibble shirtless. I never heard of Taylor Schilling before, but I really liked her as well. There is one scene where she rips Keith a new one, and she completely nails it. The entire audience broke out in applause! It was nice to see a fresh face, and I hope to see more of her on the silver screen. Blythe Danner, as always, was fantastic as Beth’s whacky Nana who says everything on her mind and got some legit laughs. Plus, every Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie adaptation is good for a few killer cheeseball lines that you can’t help but swoon over.
The Lucky One was one of those situations where giving it a “3” seems generous, but giving it a “2.5” would be too harsh. I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t necessarily watch it again. I prepared myself to cry my eyes out and I didn’t even tear up. I would normally think that’s a good thing, since I’ve been getting sick of those trademark Nicholas Sparks sad-for-the-sake-of-being-sad endings, but it means I wasn’t overly moved by the movie either. As I said, I think the story would have been stronger if it focused more on Logan’s journey to find the woman in the picture. But hey, it could have been a lot worse… Beth could’ve ended things with Logan out of nowhere to marry her skeevy, old-man of a neighbor. You know, like that other Nicholas Sparks book/movie about a US soldier in love. I’m looking at you, Dear John.