When women give their lists of the hottest male actors under 25, you can bet Zac Efron will be found on most. But being pretty alone does not carry much weight, both in the case of Zac and of his newest flick, the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic novel “The Lucky One”.
Now, my expectations were really not that high to begin with: Efron’s filmography includes such award-winning material as “New Year’s Eve”, “Charlie St. Cloud”, and the “High School Musical” epic trilogy. “The Lucky One” definitely fits in with that crowd. It follows the story of Logan Thibault (Efron), a Marine who finds a picture of a pretty girl while on tour in the Middle East. The very act of him picking up the picture saves his life, and after that he calls her his guardian angel. When he returns home from war, he walks from Colorado to Lousiana with his German Shepherd after miraculously being able to locate the half of a lighthouse in the background of the picture. This happens probably 20 minutes into the movie, and at that point, the ridiculousness of it all had me running for the hills. I can usually suspend reality enough in my head to buy into most story lines, but all I could think was “This is DUMB.”
Logan arrives in town and eventually finds his “angel” (the also ridiculously pretty Taylor Schilling). He doesn’t tell her right away about how he found her picture, and why he’s there, which is the first stage in every run-of-the-mill romantic film. From there, you already know what’s going to happen: they fall in love; everything is great, then a conflict arises (he lied, now that means everything they had is a lie too); they separate; and then finally he rises to the occasion to prove his love, and they live happily ever after.
Once you recognize the first stage (the lie), and you realize how the rest of the story is going to go, what’s the point? It makes you wonder if Nicholas Sparks put much effort into telling a story at all, or if he just took the run-of-the-mill plot and filled in the blanks. Do we have a boatload of pretty in our two stars (gratuitous scenes of a sweaty, ripped Efron and Schilling in short shorts included)? Check. Cute kid? Check. Do we have the sassy grandma full of wisdom? Check. What about the a-hole villain, in this case the bully ex-husband who is really the only point of conflict in the whole thing? Check. Sparks has all the ingredients, but there’s no spark, no heart. If he hasn’t put in the effort to truly entertain an audience and take them on a roller coaster love-conquers-all story, why should you spend $12 to see it? You shouldn’t. Wait until it’s at the Redbox, and even then only pay the $1 because Efron is so damn pretty.