Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Jay R. Ferguson, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart
Directed By: Scott Hicks
I remember when Scott Hicks was directing movies like Shine and Hearts In Atlantis. Apparently, at some point, he just really needed money so he decided to “class up” a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Admittedly, this is my first time seeing The Lucky One, and I’m a few years behind. But hey, isn’t that what all this streaming technology is about? Bringing us a wide variety of titles? I should be able to sit down, prop my feet up, and watch Zac Efron uncomfortably woo Taylor Schilling for two hours.
This is just a really weird movie in many respects. First, Zac Efron is incredibly charming. He loves being on camera. He loves smiling. He interacts well with child actors. He’s likeable. He has absolutely no chemistry with his on-screen love interest. Taylor Schilling, I love her too. She’s really engaging in her scenes… that don’t involve her trying to swoon over Efron. Though, if Hollywood wants to turn Taylor Schilling into a movie star, I’m totally down for that. Love her. Its just that her and Efron have zero chemistry. On top of the fact, that I can’t get over how she seems older than Efron the whole time, and even though they never address that in the plot, I always feel like she’s robbing the cradle by going with Efron. In reality, she’s only three years older than him, but I think its because she’s had a career of playing adult characters whereas Efron is always playing high schoolers or college students.
It’s based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, so obviously someone is going to die. Actually, there are a lot of dead people. Schilling reveals that her parents died when they were young, and her brother died in the Middle East. There are those deaths… and then the big one near the end. Sparks is pretty famous for using death to further his stories, so I spent most of the movie hedging my bet that somehow Blythe Danner was going to develop an incurable case of typhoid fever and pass away while Efron and Schilling were romantically making love/dancing in the rain. But, the death is far more realistic, if not telegraphed to the audience several times before it actually happens. And honestly, I wasn’t the least bit sad when it happened.
There are a few moments in this movie where I can tell the film was directed by someone with a bit of talent, but mostly Scott Hicks showed up for a paycheck. Efron and Schilling are both good, separately, but this is a romance, and your leads have to have chemistry together. This is far from The Notebook, and really, it’s not even on the level of Dear John.
FINAL GRADE: C