I guess there’s something to be said for consistency. Unfortunately consistency is a killer when it comes to Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Over the years they have become as routine as day and night. We’ve gotten one each year since 2010 and each has been variable shades of terrible. Again, consistency is a killer.
“The Lucky One” was the 2012 installment and it’s one of the lamest. Trust me, that’s saying something. Based on the Sparks book of the same name, the title certainly isn’t a reference to the viewer. It’s another by-the-book adaptation that checks every corny box – sappy musical montages, weak-kneed puppy dog stares, overwrought family problems, and lots of water.
An ex-Marine named Logan (Zac Efron) walks from Colorado to a small bayou town of Hamden, Louisiana mysteriously in search of a woman named Beth (Taylor Schilling). He finds her and gets hired on to work at her dog kennel. Of course she is loaded with baggage. She’s a single mom who still has a volatile relationship with her ex Keith (Jay Ferguson). She also struggles with the recent death of her brother who was also a marine serving in Iraq. See, all of the heavy dramatic pieces are in place.
What amazes me is regardless of who writes the screenplay and regardless of who directs the film, every one of these Sparks movies look and feel identical and each follow the exact same blueprint. Take the story itself. It’s chock full of cheesy, melodramatic flab. It’s never romantic, but it’s always predictable. And then there are the contrivances that you can’t help but laugh at. I mean what are the chances of having a starry blue-eyed hunk who reads philosophy, plays piano, and regurgitates lines like “You deserve better” just showing up at your door?
And of course there is the corny dialogue, unintentional hilarity, and unsure performances. Efron is subdued to a fault and he is constantly shot as if posing for Tiger Beat. Schilling is the opposite. Her performance is a bit manic, constantly shifting between her spunky independence and hypnotic lusty gazing. Their chemistry is solid enough but individually neither can escape how their characters are written.
“The Lucky One” offers no unique vision and absolutely no surprises. It’s just the same tired formula that apparently works for a very specific and devoted audience. Amazingly these films manage to make money every time they come to theaters. I suppose those involved are content with that degree of success, but wouldn’t it be nice to see one of these movies actually take some chances and do something different. But can a movie do that and still be a Nicholas Sparks adaptation? I don’t know.