This Valentine’s Day, the king of turning his romantic novels into movies, Nicholas Sparks, offers up a tasty treat for you and your date. “Safe Haven” stars Julianne Hough (most noted for her moves on “Dancing with the Stars”) and Josh Duhamel (Mr. Fergie), telling the story of Katie (Hough), who arrives in a small coastal town, attempting to escape her past and start over anew. As with all Nicholas Sparks movies, there must be a love story: enter Duhamel as Alex, a widower with two adorable children.
The first scene is of a brunette Hough running down the street, crying and covered in blood. She escapes into a neighbor’s house, and the next scene shows her with short blonde hair, boarding a bus in extreme haste to escape the man chasing her. Throughout the movie we see flashbacks, and slowly you start to put together the pieces of what happened to make her run. She arrives in a small town called Southport, North Carolina, finds a job and a house, and attempts to start her life over. At first she is reluctant to make any ties and rejects Alex’s friendship, but then she rethinks her position and becomes friends with him and his kids. Of course, this friendship leads to love, but the relationship is endangered when Alex sees a police report saying she’s wanted for first-degree murder. A confrontation ensues, and Katie must come clean with Alex about who she is and what her past entails.
Overall, “Safe Haven” is not the worst romantic movie I’ve ever seen. However, it certainly is not as great as the all-time favorite Nicholas Sparks novel-turned-movie of every woman in the world, “The Notebook.” “The Notebook” was an epic love story (plus Ryan Gosling >>>> Josh Duhamel), and “Safe Haven” is not epic in any way except for how epically improbable the plot is. I found myself several times thinking, “Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch, Mr. Sparks.” But, if you can suspend your sense of reality and contain your eye-rolling for almost two hours, “Safe Haven” isn’t a terrible way to spend your money. Plus, it might get you some bonus points with your significant other on love’s favorite day of the year. Or you could just watch “The Notebook.”