Film Review : The Lucky One
● By Justin Buettner
Marine Logan Thibault (played by Zac Efron) returns from the Iraq war with a picture of a girl that he found in the battlefield. After crediting her photo with bringing him the luck needed to survive the conflict he sets out to find her, which he does in a small town. Logan gets a job at Beth’s dog kennel and works his way into her life until the two fall in love. But when she discovers the photo that Logan holds secret will she still trust him?
To be upfront, I expected to loathe this movie. After watching the film I have to admit I did not hate it, in fact I am quite certain a good story exited in there to tell. The movie had several scenes and story elements I thought worked quite well. However everything I feared would be in a movie like the Lucky One was there. This includes bad voice overs, overly sappy dialogue, musical montages, and a way too convenient happy ending. Yep, every bit of it was crammed in the movie and then some which definitely prevented this movie from being something I would call a good film.
The biggest problem with the Lucky One was the beginning 10 minutes of the movie that featured Logan in the Iraq war. It is not that these scenes were shot poorly, but I felt it just didn’t belong in this movie. By showing us upfront why Logan came upon this small town and Beth took all the mystery out of the movie. We as an audience knew too much too quickly. It would have been more fun if, we as the audience, had the same perspective of Beth and slowly got to know Logan. It would have added an essential dimension to this movie, making it something more than just your standard sappy love story. Looking at it from the other perspective, you could make a very interesting feature from the first ten minutes of the movie about the search for the mystery girl too, but that would be a completely different movie.
I liked that the Lucky One wove Beth’s son Ben into the fabric of the movie. This reminded me a lot of Jerry Maguire in a good way. I get frustrated with movies that use kids as props when needed for the plot, then they mysteriously disappear for convenience. I also felt that the grandmother character Ellie was well used in the story; in it just enough to be useful and entertaining and not overpowering and annoying.
The movie is at its worst when the romance starts to take hold. There are way too many scenes of Beth starring at Logan in a longing fashion. So much in fact the audience laughed several times at how ridiculous it was becoming. The worst has to be the scene where Beth has what looks to be an orgasm while watching Logan unload dog food while she is doing the dishes. Really, is Zac Efron that hot? Then it includes not one but multiple musical montages of the two kissing and making love in the steamiest way they could while keeping the movie PG. In short it just was boring and awkward and took away from the real story. There has to be better ways to show a relationship developing than this.
The movie of course also includes the over the top bad ex-husband who spends much of the movie bullying everyone from his son, to his ex-wife, and her new boyfriend. These movies go through such great lengths to make these characters despicable when perhaps a more nuanced approach could be much more rewarding and perhaps more entertaining. Regardless it becomes fairly silly in more than one scene to watch the ex-husband parade around on screen. In contrast Logan is portrayed way too saintly for much of the movie too. Not every character needs to painted in such broad strokes.
There is a great moment in the film that features a confrontation between Logan and the ex-husband, but from that moment on the movie falls off a cliff. The ending of The Lucky One is downright bad. It’s riddled with terrible clichés of characters saying and doing things that are fairly out of character for the sake of the plot, then it ends way too neatly. I can’t elaborate without ruining the ending, but you’ve seen this style ending before and it wasn’t good the first time you’ve seen it either.
I really must say that if Zac Efron actually picked good and challenging roles I think he’d be a big (or bigger) star. He is a likable actor and brings a charm to his roles. I actually think he can act too. He absolutely needs to stop making bubble gum romance movies and go the Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise route of choosing roles that go against the grain. Perhaps his next film Paperboy will be a start in a new direction for him.
The Lucky One is not the worst romance movie I have sat through, there are a whole slew of films tied for that dubious distinction. It’s a movie that had the potential to be good but it just wasn’t meant to be. Sure it’s sappy, melodramatic, soap opera style romance but it would be silly to expect anything different. Girls will like the movie and guys I’d just like to remind you it could be a lot worse, you could be watching Sex and the City 2.
Films like The Lucky One : The Notebook, Dear John, and Remember Me
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.