Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Few Sparks 'Lucky One' Lacks Romantic Electricity

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Few Sparks 'Lucky One' Lacks Romantic Electricity

Article excerpt

Nicholas Sparks is the lucky one.

He cranks out best-sellers turned into romantic dramas with hot young stars such as Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum, Miley Cyrus and, now, Zac Efron as a muscular Marine in "The Lucky One."

The love stories are tinged with tragedy and feature couples fated to be together and HGTV-worthy homes, as with the beach house in "Nights in Rodanthe" or the "Lucky One" farmhouse plopped amid 30 acres that served as a Louisiana sugar plantation in the 1800s.

Seeing such a movie is a bit like eating in a chain restaurant. The food and service are reliable -- sometimes good, occasionally even outstanding -- and the atmosphere comfortable but the experience isn't particularly momentous or original.

Mr. Efron plays U.S. Marine Sgt. Logan Thibault, who is serving his third tour of duty in Iraq as the story unfolds.

In the aftermath of a chaotic raid, Logan spots something shiny in the dirt and finds a photo of an unidentified blonde with "Keep Safe" written on the back. His curiosity saves his life; a mortar hits the spot where he was standing and he, like others, would have been killed.

He vows to find the woman in his lucky-charm photo when he returns to Colorado. His only clue is a sliver of a lighthouse caught in the frame, and he starts walking, with his German shepherd, to Louisiana. (For the record, that could be 900 or more miles.)

He lands in picturesque Hamden, where someone recognizes the woman as Beth Green (Taylor Schilling), a local who runs a dog kennel. Their first meeting is a jumble of interruptions, and every time he starts to explain why he's there, the phone rings or she mistakenly thinks he's looking for work.

Thanks to Beth's perceptive and kindly grandmother (Blythe Danner), Logan does walk away with a job. The more time he spends with Beth and her 7-year-old son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart), the more comfortable the threesome becomes, but Beth's ex-husband is none too pleased with the newcomer. …

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