Effective as a romantic/sex fantasy with emphasis on story build-up and verbal foreplay. The Lucky One is a movie I liked for perverse reasons (it is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures), yet I think it fits the bill perfectly as a movie that teenage girls would be enamored by. Zac Efron is the Marine who has come back from Iraq duty with a little Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He nearly got himself blown up in Iraq but was rescued by a matter of seconds when he bent down to pick up a photograph of a pretty blonde, saving him by being a few steps ahead where the explosion took place. Taylor Schilling is the attractive daisy-dukes ingénue who runs a dog kennel in Louisiana. This movie is based on a soapy Nicholas Sparks novel who once again throws in an obligatory rain storm or thunderstorm to shake up the plot.
Following discharge, Logan Thibault (Efron) walks all the way from Colorado to Louisiana to thank Beth (Schilling) in person, but can’t get the words out. He goes to work for her as a farmhand, flexing his biceps involuntarily and gets sexy sweat stains on the job.
Beth is flustered by Logan who is so naturally a Mr. Integrity, and who with extra credit, excels at training the dogs to jump through hoops. Olympian dogs, he makes ‘em. For most of the time Logan minds his own business, walks to and from work, and doesn’t intrude at all on her privacy. Of course, what guy could ever be this perfect? “Dreamy!” is what female moviegoers will say across America.
Beth helplessly looks out the window all the time, then looks away, trying to ignore her feelings. But you sense her getting moist for him. Even mom (Blythe Danner) encourages her to extend her interest to this mysterious guy, who asks for nothing. Beth is a single mom, trying to refrain from passion, attempting responsibility.
The boozing policeman ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson, TV’s “Mad Men”) is the antagonist conflict, so unnerved by the new stranger of the house that his jealousy flares up dangerously. Bad Cop Keith attempts to find flaws in Logan, even entrap him, but to no avail. Logan doesn’t budge, and in this movieland fantasy, is cool as a cucumber when under the threat of a crazy-boozer-cop with a gun.
If this movie had been made 25 years ago with Nicolas Cage doing a reprise of his “Peggy Sue Got Married” (1986) character, but with the same tone around him and with the rest of the chemistry intact, I would have found this movie to be a great parody of lovey-dovey soap operas. As it stands with Efron, who is a better gentleman on-screen than off, “Lucky One” is a shameless soap opera. One that is beautifully photographed in that slick glamour town & country magazine way.
All the yummy goodies, too, for die-hard romantics. When the two spark their first kiss, they’re dripping wet, from the showerhead perfectly placed and aimed – it’s done in that cable cinemax channel way. But overall it is discreet and obscure romantic action, and none too graphic to offend anybody. This movie isn’t about exploiting trysts, it’s about the foreplay fantasies that fill the minds of teenage girls yearning for that stoic guy in tight jeans.
If I had a teenage daughter, I’d much rather her watch “The Lucky One” than some potty-mouthed rom-com. If you have a low tolerance for sappiness, or you don’t have a girl to cuddle with, than I imagine you already decided in advance you’re not going. Seriously, guilty pleasure seekers only.
101 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ROMANTIC TEARJERKER / CHICK FLICK / WEEKEND CUDDLE MOVIE
Film Cousins: “Summer of ’42” (1971); “A Walk in the Clouds” (1995); “The Notebook” (2004); “Dear John” (2010).