However, Beth’s ex-husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson, “The Killer Inside Me”) has some questions about this mysterious stranger who has become enmeshed in the life of not only his ex-wife but that of his son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart, “The Beaver”). Keith’s controlling and suspicious nature leads to a number of confrontations – especially when Beth begins to fall for Logan.
It’s typical Sparks. The male lead is a too-good-to-be-true romantic, while the woman has a preexisting relationship with which she is still entwined. There are all manner of obstacles to be overcome for the new love to truly bloom. And the whole shebang is simply dripping with emotional manipulation.
Unfortunately, unlike with some of the other Sparks film adaptations, the performances here simply aren’t strong enough to overcome the story’s flaws. Efron seems like a nice enough kid, but this ain’t “High School Musical” anymore. This is big-boy acting and frankly, Efron just doesn’t have the chops to pull off “brooding stranger.” Schilling is sweet enough, but she doesn’t bring a whole lot of depth to a character who should be having complex feelings. Danner does good work, though she doesn’t have much to sink her teeth into, while Ferguson is an odd two-dimensional amalgam of uninteresting archetypes – he’s a small-town cop, a bullier of women and a child of privilege, yet he still manages to be boring.
There are some engaging moments, of course. As melodramatic as it is, this film is emotionally charged. There’s no avoiding some reaction to that emotion, even if you know you’re being manipulated. However, there’s no changing the fact that there are four separate scenes devoted solely to close-ups of Efron and Schilling kissing. Seriously; 10 minutes of the film is made of nothing but slowly rising music and smoochy faces.
“The Lucky One” isn’t a particularly good film. The story is lacking and the performances are weak. Aside from a few overt attempts at pushing emotional buttons (all with a ring of falsity), there’s just not much here.
Truthfully, the real “lucky one” is someone who avoids seeing this movie altogether.
1 out of 5