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Directed by Scott Hicks, The Lucky One stars Zac Efron as a Marine vet coming home from Iraq and Taylor Schilling as a charming blonde, whose photograph is found after an ambush. Efron’s character holds onto the picture as his good luck charm, seeking out the mysterious woman upon his return to the states.
The film is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, whose previous romantic adaptions include The Notebook, Dear John and Nights in Rodanthe.
Reviews of the film are mixed, with critics giving lukewarm praise to Sparks’ formulaic love story (adapted for the screen by writer Will Fetters). At the time of publication, the The Lucky One is averaging a 78 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but what do the film critics have to say?
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy says that “Despite their inner turmoil, the characters remain bland and superficial, never expressing gut feelings when homilies about destiny and life’s little surprises will do.” He also points out about, “Efron works within such a narrow range of stoical solidity that his real potential is impossible to gauge, while Schilling, who was the one somewhat good thing about last year’s Atlas Shrugged—Part 1 (a film conspicuously missing from her Warner Bros. presskit bio) seems constrained as if by contagion.”
Los Angeles Times‘ Betsy Sharkey calls the film “Sweet but not too syrupy romance,” adding that Sparks’s romance style “has almost become its own movie genre — predictable, pure of heart, sentimental and never straying from the boy-meets-girl basics, or the surface, for that matter — and in that The Lucky One delivers.”
The New York Times’ A. O. Scott points out that “the movie acknowledges like another Nicholas Sparks picture, Dear John, and unlike most other commercially ambitious American films in recent years — the impact of the last 10 years of war on the lives of many young Americans. Not with any overt polemical purpose, mind you, but as more than an incidental detail.” As for Efron’s performance outside of the hit High School Musical, the critic says “this erstwhile teenage heartthrob is reasonably credible, all things considered. His biceps are thick, his face is covered in rough stubble, and his baby blues are fixed in the thousand-yard stare of a man who has seen some terrible things. ”
Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman says, “The trouble with the movie isn’t that it’s too girly-swoony; it’s that it tries to achieve emotion through glowy sunsets and a paint-by-numbers script. Of course, there’s every chance that the target audience for The Lucky One will still cry a happy tear at the end.” However, the critic liked Efron’s performance saying “When Efron stares, however, there’s no undercurrent, no sensual mischief. He’s just a lox — sweet, handsome, and a little dull.”
People Magazine‘s Alynda Wheat says “If there’s a quibble – well, apart from the wan plot and paper-thin characters – it’s that there’s not enough adult action. As cinematic sexual awakenings go, PG-13 is far too tame.”
The Lucky One opened nationwide on Friday, April 20.
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