** (out of four)
Don’t just assume “The Lucky One” is some schmaltzy, ordinary Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook”) adaptation in which a dreamy guy (Zac Efron), who says stuff like “You should be kissed every day, every hour, every minute,” comes to the aid of a struggling woman (Taylor Schilling), who has a jerky ex that drawls, “You think I don’t know what’s goin’ on around here?”
However, I can confirm that’s exactly what the movie is.
While serving in the Marines, Logan (Efron) picks up a picture on the ground and consequently avoids dying in an explosion. Back in the states, he tracks down Beth (Schilling), the unknown girl in the photo, with stunning ease, only to take a job assisting her at her kennel before he can confess why he walked from Colorado to Louisiana to find her. Naturally, Logan’s a great, artistic guy who’s happy to play father figure to Beth’s son (Riley Thomas Stewart) but not so good to come clean before director Scott Hicks (“Shine”) and writer Will Fetters (“Remember Me”) treat us to some sensual lovemaking. Lovemaking that, of course, Beth initiates. Ever the gentleman, Logan has no complaints about passionate kissing and dry humping.
Efron deserves more credit for being an actor who can keep kindness from being dull. “The Lucky One,” on the other hand, bores at almost every turn because of crushingly familiar characters and predictable decisions. Sparks’ formula feels manipulative without some healthy doses of tension and unrequited love, but “Lucky” neither pulses with longing nor justifies putting a child in danger for emotional pull. Plus, considering Logan’s honest intentions, it’s hard not to imagine a different, more surprising movie in which the photo that saves him depicts a man, a building or a horse. If something, anything, saves your life, everyone deserves equal thanks, right?
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