Title: The Lucky One

Director: Scott Hicks (‘No Reservations’)

Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling (TV’s ‘Mercy’) and Blythe Danner

There are often instances when even the most independent people who feel they can survive on their own need help, and are deeply changed by the one instance they needed assistance. Even Marines can be influenced by a chance encounter they weren’t expecting, and will do anything to return the favor. This is the case in the latest film adaption of a popular Nicholas Sparks book, ‘The Lucky One,’ emotionally mixing a character’s need for help with his love for the one who saved him.

‘The Lucky One’ follows U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (played by Zac Efron), who returns home to Colorado after his third tour of duty in Iraq. Realizing that he needs to find a way to cope with being home, Logan decides to find the woman in the picture he found while fighting in Iraq. After discovering her name is Beth (portrayed by Taylor Schilling), Logan and his dog walk to the dog kennel in Louisiana where she lives and works. Logan is instantly well-received by Beth’s grandmother, Ellie (played by Blythe Danner), who runs the kennel, so she decides to hire him to help with the manual labor. Beth’s son Ben (portrayed by Riley Thomas Stewart) also grows attached to the new man in their life.

Despite her initial mistrust of Logan and the harassment she regularly receives from her ex-husband, Keith (played by Jay R. Ferguson), about dating other people, Beth decides to start a romance with her grandmother’s new hire. As Logan’s feelings for Beth deepen, he must debate whether he should tell her about finding her picture, and believing she was his good luck charm in the war.

Like with the other film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ books, ‘The Lucky One’ deeply and intensely followed the main characters’ unexpected love for each other. Despite their growing feelings for each other, director Scott Hicks effortlessly described and chronicled the several obstacles that should in the way of the characters instantly connecting. While Logan and Beth don’t have as many internal and external conflicts and expectations placed on them as ‘The Notebook’s Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton, the two still fiercely and bravely face battles that would keep many other people apart.

While Logan is conflicted about telling Beth the truth about why he showed up at the kennel, and is dealing with the unwarranted harassment by Keith and struggling with re-integrating into society, spending time with Beth and Ben is the only thing that helps him reintegrate into a civilian lifestyle. While known for his comedies and musicals, including the ‘High School Musical’ trilogy and ’17 Again,’ Efron channeled the emotions of his title character in another romantic drama, ‘Charlie St. Cloud’ for his role of Logan. The actor proved again with Logan that when put in troubling situations, even the perceived strongest people aren’t afraid to show their vulnerable side while fighting for what they want.

Unfortunately, there are several inspirational and moving sub-plots and story points from the book that screenwriter Will Fetters omitted from the script. As a result, the film’s story unfortunately loses a bit of context, as these seemingly minor details provided the motivations of the characters’ actions. For example, one of Logan’s closest friends in the Marine Corps, Victor, is only briefly mentioned in the film. However, in the novel, Logan has several flashbacks of his time serving with his friend during the war, including Victor encouraging him to find who the woman in the picture is, because he says she’s his guardian angel. Hicks does little to explain why Logan walked half-way across the country to meet Bath, making viewers seem as questionable about him as Beth is.

The numerous film adaptations of Sparks’ books, including ‘The Notebooks,’ ‘A Walk to Remember and ‘Dear John,’ have all succeeded at the box office because they feature star crossed lovers who do whatever it takes to be together. Audiences often revel in the fact that the lovers end up together, even if just for a brief period of time, as people generally like to believe they’ll end up with their one true love as well. While ‘The Lucky One’ doesn’t feature as intensive conflicts and separation as Sparks’ previously adapted stories, the drama keeps the hope alive that even against all odds, people can still end up with the one they love.

Technical: B

Acting: B-

Story: B-

Overall: B-

Written by: Karen Benardello

the lucky one movie review

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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