out of Five
Running time: 101
If you like cheesy Zac Efron sex montages, then it is YOU who are The Lucky One – this is an averagely entertaining and heavily clichéd romantic drama that stays the right side of watchable thanks to strong performances from Efron, Schilling and a scene-stealing Blythe Danner.
What's it all about?
Directed by Scott Hicks, The Lucky One is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Dear John) and stars Zac Efron as implausibly named Marine Logan Thibault, whose life is saved on two occasions by a photograph of a pretty girl he finds on the battlefield. Returning to America after his third tour of duty, Logan decides to find the girl in the photo and a landmark in the background leads him to Louisiana, where he quickly discovers that the woman he's looking for is kennel-owning Beth (Taylor Schilling), who lives with her young son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart) and mother Ellie (Blythe Danner) and is separated from her loutish cop ex-husband Keith (Mad Men's Jay R Ferguson).
Unable to tell Beth about the photograph, Logan instead accepts a live-in job as the kennel's handyman, since he is mysteriously able to fix anything in the world (tractors, boats, plumbing, guttering – you name it, Zac Efron can fix it). Naturally it isn't long before Logan is bonding with Ben, charming Ellie and striking up a romance with Beth, which quickly gets him on the wrong side of Sheriff Keith.
Zac Efron didn't get to where he is today without being an extremely likeable screen presence and it turns out that not even a regulation Marine crewcut can diminish said presence. As such, he has decent chemistry with Schilling, though markedly stronger chemistry with both Danner (on fine scene-stealing form) and Stewart.
Everything about The Lucky One is clichéd and predictable, from the permanently sunny photography to the on-the-nose dialogue and the entirely guessable climax. In fact, the film works much better if you step back a little and allow yourself to laugh at its cheesy excesses, such as a ridiculous sex montage and a hilarious shot of Beth lusting after Logan as he works in manly fashion outside (cue a shot of foam dripping off her washing up gloves in slow motion).
The Lucky One lacks both the emotional impact and the iconic central image (no rain-drenched kisses here) to be considered on the same level as The Notebook, but as cheesy Sparks-based romantic dramas go, it's watchable enough. If you liked Dear John, you'll like this too.