Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Lucky One (Movie only+UltraViolet Digital Copy) (2012)

The Lucky OneAs a writer and philosopher, this movie in particular just blew me away. The first time I saw the previews for it, I remember thinking that it seemed to have an interesting quality to it which appealed to both my intellectual trades mentioned above. The first time I saw it, I was just blown away, as have I been in the three other times I've gone to see it.

Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) comes off as being the kind of character who you can really learn a lot from in terms of lust plain old life experiences in general. What other people brand as being 'mushy' or 'cheesy' I see as being the truth towards understanding how no matter what hand of cards you're dealt in your life, there is always hope. All you got to to is go and find it. Logan finds himself in this situation while on deployment in the Middle East, where a single, split second decision to pick up a photo amidst a pile of rubble undoubtedly comes to change the course of his entire life. After coming to the realization that finding that photo truly spared his life, along with knowing so many others were not so lucky, he finds himself obliged and determined to find the girl in the photo and thank her.

After a brief stay with his sister in Colorado, he sets off on foot to find this girl. His search takes him to a small town in Louisiana where once meeting her, his initial goal of thanking her is derailed as he suddenly finds himself falling in love with her, as well as growing to be very fond of both her eight-year-old son and her feisty grandmother. One thing in particular that I admired greatly about Logan's character is that he never once detered or swayed when it came to helping someone else in need, or standing beside them when they needed support. This is shown in the film when he rises to support Beth when she is grieving over the loss of her brother as well as amidst the conflict with her abusive ex-husband. At the same time, his imperfections are conveyed through his struggle to come clean with the true reason for which he intended to find Beth.

Out of everything, the most prominent element of Logan's character which resonated in my mind is the level of humility present in his character. He's not afraid to see things as they really are in his life, and tries his best to change what he can. Even when confronting Beth over the matter of Derek's picture, he makes his best effort to address the situation as honestly as he can, even when it could mean losing Beth and her family forever. Probably the most shining moment of the movie comes at the end, after Logan explains to Beth the details of her brother's death which she has wanted to know since his death, when the sum of all of Logan's actions come together to reward him in the form of Beth saying to him, "You belong here."

I know this as a fact, from personal experience, to be one of life's greatest lessons, and some people's inability to understand it is to be expected, as people are not perfect. That just makes the experiences of those who do even more culturally prominent, because passing that lesson on to another person is undoubtedly the most remarkable gift one person can give to another. Therefore, I raise my glass to Sparks, Efron and all those involved and say,

"Well done, my friends. Well done."

I have this subversive image of Nicholas Sparks in a wifebeater at the computer, angrily pounding the keyboards and listening to death metal while a burly biker gives him a tat. Because a guy can't be that wholesome and sensitive, can he? Except that, like clockwork, Sparks' bestselling novels keep getting made into films. THE LUCKY ONE is merely the latest adaptation.

This is Hollywood, babe, so we shouldn't harp on them heaps of uncanny coincidences. Such as these: In Iraq, the morning after a harrowing exchange of gunfire with the enemy, U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) gets off his duff and picks up a photo he glimpses lying in the rubble. Suddenly, there's an explosion right where he had been sitting, and that's when the notion probably first struck him that the photo is some sort of lucky charm. Eight months later, Logan's third tour of duty ends and he's going home, that photo still tucked away in his keeping. Logan regards the mysterious girl in the photo as his guardian angel, someone who'd kept him safe and breathing. He wants to find her and thank her. But he doesn't know who she is.

Back home, Logan Thibault is unable to settle down, and off he goes with his dog, walking, just walking. In his wanderings, he crosses several states and eventually ends up at a family-run dog kennel in Louisiana. See, he'd never stopped trying to look for that girl in the photo. By pure happenstance, the girl in question, whose name is Beth (Taylor Schilling), runs the kennel and she assumes that Logan has shown up looking for work. And because the plot demands it, Logan rides with the deception.

The kennel is this run-down establishment, and Logan quickly makes himself useful, never mind Beth's bitter ex-husband's assertion that he may be a "crazy drifter." It shouldn't surprise viewers that THE LUCKY ONE follows the patented Nicholas Sparks formula. The film, lushly romantic and graced with evocative cinematography, reminds me quite a bit, in terms of tone and sheer escapism, of A Walk in the Clouds. Of course, it makes more sense for Logan to right away inform Beth of why he's really there. But where would the movie be? Taylor Schilling is sweet and appealing, playing a young single mom raising a child while fending off the unwanted affections of her influential ex-husband (who is this bullying deputy sheriff). Beth nurses her own grief. She's yet to come to terms with her brother's death during the war. Logan's military past upsets her and prejudices her against him. Plus, he seems to be everywhere she's at. It's irritating. We all know where this is going. But Nicholas Sparks, with his sweaty wifebeater shirt and his deep aversion to sunlight, is adept at manipulating his audience.

Zac Efron surprises me. It's evident that those HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL pictures are increasingly dimming in the rear view. A friend recommended CHARLIE ST. CLOUD to me a while ago, and I laughed at her with the smug convinction of someone who views Zac Efron as someone who belongs strictly in the teeny bopper crowd. But Efron demonstrates reserve and maturity in his portrayal of a troubled jarhead desperate for solace. He plays Logan as a man of serious humor but with hidden depths. I liked him. Blythe Danner comes in as Schilling's wise grandmother. Danner, naturally, exhibits that infallible knack for sensing the right man for her hurting granddaughter. I long for a grandmother like Danner. It surely would save time and effort on them online dating services.

A manly man like me can readily admit that he's a romantic cuss. I enjoyed THE LUCKY ONE quite a bit. Nothing in the story surprised me. I looked each plot swerve (not many) squarely in the eye. But Efron and Schilling invest in their characters, and they effortlessly pull the viewer in. It helps that the little boy is likable. There's a stillness and thoughtfulness to the film which I appreciated. It doesn't indulge in too many grand gestures, although, okay, the climactic sequence is pretty melodramatic. The movie accomplishes that ultimate flattery: It made me want to read the book. Yeah, Nicholas Sparks, in his wifebeater shirt, knows what he's doing. Even if he drinks human blood.

Buy The Lucky One (Movie only+UltraViolet Digital Copy) (2012) Now

Being the only male in the audience on a Friday afternoon, pretty much tells you what you are getting with "The Lucky One". As the lights came up as the credits rolled, I turned around to see myself standing among fifteen to twenty women, some were teared up, some weren't. Nicholas Sparks, the writer of the novel, has made a career off of books and movies that touch people's hearts. The biggest of those was "The Notebook", but "A Walk to Remember" & "Message in a Bottle" were notable as well.

While most of Spark's novels are tailor made for women, I found "The Notebook" to be something that everything could relate to with its theme of Alzheimer's. "The Lucky One" on the other hand, had many opportunities to reach a broader audience but brush stroked over those. I enjoyed "The Lucky One", but for some reason, it didn't quite affect me like "The Notebook" did. That may be because it didn't spend enough time in certain areas.

First of all, Zac Effron (High School Musical, 17 Again) plays Logan, a survivor of Iraqi freedom who stumbles upon a picture of Beth (Taylor Schilling) lying in a pile of rocks after a night raid. All we learn about Logan happens in the length of the opening credits. The problem with "The Lucky One" may just have been that the characters were all too interesting. There is depth to the characters, but the montages that are used to get all the information across are empty and unexplored. Sparks also did a movie called "Dear John" that had so many montages, I thought I was watching a two-hour commercial for Hallmark. I hate montages.

In the first four minutes of the film, we see Logan survive some war situations, see him return home with a picture that saved his life and see that he has a lot of post-traumatic stress. All of which is very interesting, but it happens in a montage and we lose all the emotion from it. Once the movie gets going though, to its credit, we start to see some real emotions coming out, especially from Schilling's character. She does an outstanding job portraying her sadness and her struggles as a single mother dealing with a lot of issues. Effron, on the other hand, is stuck playing a character that had his best parts portrayed in montage and for the rest of the movie, plays the perfect man. What else would you expect?

"The Lucky One" is just an okay movie that gives everybody that enjoys these type movies exactly what they're looking for. It has two beautiful people falling in love. It has drama. It has beautiful cinematography. It has all the cliché' things that make a movie like this safe from criticism and just outside the realm of memorable. As rich as the characters were, I just wish some of those character traits would have been fleshed out more.

Read Best Reviews of The Lucky One (Movie only+UltraViolet Digital Copy) (2012) Here

I loved this movie. The acting was so good. Zac and Tayor did a superb job. My husband liked this movie as well.

The story flowed from beginning to end. You will love it.

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This is an Improbable chick flick. Logan (Zac Efron) didn't die in Iraq, like most of his unit. He credits a picture of a blond he found in the rubble for his survival. When he returns home, he is a bit jumpy and decides to walk from Colorado to Louisiana to locate the girl(Taylor Schilling) in the picture. As it turns out, she, Beth, runs a kennel and before he can say anything to her, he is hired by "grandmother" (Blythe Danner) to be a helping hand. She has taken a shine to Logan while Beth thinks he is crazy. Beth also has a son (Riley Thomas Stewart). She has trouble dealing with the death of her brother in Iraq, who she feels died for no reason. The local sheriff (Jay R. Ferguson) is the father of Beth's child and he has some testosterone problems. The sheriff is more how young men really are: jealous, controlling, manipulative. Logan is how women want them to be.

My "chick flick" detector went off when I saw the movie poster. You wait for him to tell her about the photo...which would have been better if she said, "That's not me, you have the wrong girl." At which point he packs up and leaves, but they opted not to do it my way. This is a romance novel brought to the screen. The man is handsome, fit, intelligent, understanding, a good father, musically inclined, dances, fixes things up around the house, no vices, and a knight who protects his lady...not to mention the final soul mate connection. It hurt my brain to watch it, but the women seemed to love this fantasy.

The film was well made and acted. Good music score. But it wasn't my cup of tea. I will go 4 stars based on other people's reaction and not my own. If you love romance novels, this is your book come to life.

No f-bombs, no nudity, some love scenes. Is Zac Efron the new Fabio?

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