Looking at WNY’s visual art, theater, music, and dance scenes.
Apr 20, 2012
08:28 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: The Lucky One
Films opening this weekend:
Bully - Amherst Dipson
Chimpanzee - McKinley Mall, Flix Dipson; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Hollywood Regals
Footnote - Amherst, Eastern Hills Dipson
The Lucky One - Maple Ridge; Flix Dipson; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Hollywood, Quaker Regals
Think Like a Man - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade Dipson; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Hollywood, Quaker Regals - REVIEW
Sadly—or perhaps not—The Lucky One did not instill a need to rectify my neglect of watching or reading adaptations of author Nicholas Sparks's previous works. A romantic drama that falls prey to all the tropes you know and love/hate, the roller coaster ride of emotions it wants to be ends up little more than a gradual slide to the inevitably safe bottom. Not even a pair of lead actors I actually like could save the story from itself when Taylor Schilling's Beth is a trite casualty of every stereotypical hardship a woman faces, while Zac Efron's Logan proves the performer may not be cut out for the stoic, strong type.
Adapted by Will Fetters and directed by the Oscar-nominated Shine steward Scott Hicks, the film tries hard to reign in its over-wrought dialogue by looking nice and warming our hearts, yet I'm not sure the central romance is deserving of such an attempt. Dealing with a twenty-five year old veteran of three tours with the Corps, the crux of the plot hinges on a photo Logan finds in the desert. This keepsake—from who we will soon discover is Beth—becomes his guardian angel of protection.
And so begins a surprisingly quick journey on the internet to find the lighthouse in the photo and thus the city to visit so he can give thanks. Details of Beth's life are uncovered and show just how contrived Sparks' tale is. Logan's similarities to her fallen brother are too much to handle at first, especially with a young son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart) and short-tempered ex-husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson) as background players of her grieving.
This trepidation eventually makes its way into flirting, though, and the two form a bond we assume is as strong as the one she possessed with her sibling. Logan becomes a steady hand and a figure of love and compassion. But like all fairy tales, the lingering unspoken cause of our lovers' union risks derailing everything.
Character development is almost non-existent, but not for lack of trying. If anyone should grow, it's Ferguson's Keith. The "Mad Men" actor has a gift of portraying both the bully and the broken soul of a man who lost his family due to aggression and chauvinism. He is given at least three opportunities to evolve into a full-fledged human being—and the performance made me hope he would—but the story still needed one last villainous turn. By the time he finally has the chance for redemption, I simply didn't care anymore.
We hope Efron's Logan finds his way and leaves the war behind too, but the character is stiffly written and inaccessible. He's a good guy who saw horrible things and fell in love. After owning a bad film in New Year's Eve with a standout performance, Efron becomes lost in the artifice of this role. Sadly, his natural charisma is stifled to serve a weak plot.
The Lucky One 4/10 | ★ ½
 (L-r) TAYLOR SCHILLING as Beth and ZAC EFRON as Logan in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' romantic drama "THE LUCKY ONE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Patti Perret
 (L-r) ZAC EFRON as Logan and RILEY THOMAS STEWART as Ben in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' romantic drama "THE LUCKY ONE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Alan Markfield