Brain Dead Characters Kill Lucky One

Eric Weston, Staff Writer

I find it unfortunate that so much of the romance genre relies on tired cliché and nonsensical plots. Even as a young male, I can appreciate a well-told romantic story (emphasis on the well-told story). Characters who are intelligent and have meaningful interactions with realistic tension are enough to create a good story.

A good romance will usually have all of these elements, along with two impossibly attractive leads who fall in love. The new film The Lucky One, based on the novel by popular author Nicholas Sparks, meets the quota for attractive leads, but it completely misses the mark in quality characterization and believable story.

The aforementioned attractive leads are Zac Efron of High School Musical fame and Taylor Schilling, best known for her starring role in the critically reviled Atlas Shrugged: Part 1.

Efron plays a U.S. Marine named Logan Thibault, who finds a picture of an anonymous blond woman while on a tour of duty in Iraq. Logan credits the photo for saving his life from an I.E.D. and vows to find the woman in the photo. Inexplicably, he locates the woman in question, Elizabeth Clayton, played by Schilling, without any difficulty. We are meant to find this credible because the film assumes we have a strong belief in destiny and fate. Well, I don’t.

It turns out that Beth runs a dog kennel in North Carolina and Logan charms his way into working for her. She is a divorced mother of Ben, whom Logan naturally befriends. Beth’s ex-husband becomes the central source of conflict in the story, as he feels threatened by Logan’s intrusion. He discovers Logan’s vaguely stalker-like story and attempts to reveal his deception to Beth, all while threatening to take custody of Ben.

Even if I suspend disbelief that Logan could find a random woman in the United States, this plot hole starts to destroy the plausibility of the story. The bitter ex-husband Keith, played by Jay R. Ferguson, is so ridiculously jealous and evil that it strays into Disney cartoon territory. And why can’t Logan just tell Beth that he found her because of the photo? Because then there couldn’t be a movie, I suppose. If an author has to resort to making his or her characters effectively brain-dead to have a story, then perhaps it is time to start over from scratch.

Efron plays his role with confidence and fits the part, but he can’t elevate generally poor material into a good movie. He is no Daniel Day Lewis. But perhaps I am not the intended audience for this film. Every Nicholas Sparks based film seems targeted at fans of the The Notebook, but I have found every adaption since has been poor. The mistake has been assuming that The Notebook was successful because Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling are attractive leads.

They are, but the story also made sense.