Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, The Lucky One is a near-insufferable, clumsy kitschy party that combines forced sentimentality with slack storytelling. Though it sets out to be a feel good film about a lucky chap, the film turns every single member of the audience into an unlucky one.
Anyone familiar with Sparks’ work will know what to expect – long, shoddily-scripted scenes of adults behaving like pre-pubescent kids confessing their private feelings to each other. This is of course better than long, shoddily-scripted scenes of pre-pubescent kids confessing their private feelings, because they would only result in films about videogames and farts. But The Lucky One has too many contrivances, cringe inducing dialogues, laughable conflicts and cheap reconciliations, none of which carry any insight to justify them.
So here we have a marine (Zac Efron) stationed in Iraq – he chances upon a photograph of an unknown beautiful blonde woman (Taylor Schilling) and it somehow ends up saving his life. When he gets to return home, he makes up his mind to find this guardian angel and thank her. After a quick search on the internet he locates her at a dog training sanctuary in North Carolina and heads over, only to begin working for her and falling in love. As fate begins to take over the secret he has kept from her, the ex-husband turns up to add to the frivolity of the plot.
With its main character that is 25-year-old but looks 17, and one that is unable to break free from his lone expression, The Lucky One isn’t even a chick flick. Efron is hilariously unbelievable as a marine – sulking and vacant, coming across as someone who was fired on the sets of a High School Musical movie. Schilling is equally ludicrous and ditsy, with her wide eyed grins that give the impression of a third grader in a quantum mechanics class. It also hurts that Alar Kivilo’s overtly sappy visual aesthetic can’t give momentum to the gears of the plot. To add to this, the cheesy visuals and acting is coupled with composer Mark Isham’s dreadfully schlocky score. It’s all a big package that assumes that the audience is hopelessly barmy and it constantly manipulates with bittersweet buttery visuals and narration.
The Lucky One fails on almost every possible level – it seeks our boundless empathy but gives us nothing in return.
(First published in Mid Day)