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From The Notebook To The Lucky One, Nicholas Sparks Equals Chick Flick

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Nicholas Sparks

Taylor Schilling and Zac Ephron in The Lucky One (credit: theluckyonemovie.warnerbros.com)

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Vicki Briganti – CBS 62 Writer / Producer / Editor

In anticipation of the sneak preview of Nicholas Sparks’s film adaptation of The Lucky One, I started dreaming about Zac Ephron.

Blue eyes. Five o’clock shadow. Flannel shirts. Row boat. Sigh. Ya gotta love the casting department for Nicholas Sparks movies. Remember Ryan Gosling in The Notebook? Blue eyes. Five o’clock shadow. Flannel shirts. Row boat. Sigh. It all works. It’s a winning formula to sell tickets to chick flicks.

I haven’t read a single Nicholas Sparks novel, but I’ve managed to see every one of his tearjerkers. Message in a Bottle. A Walk to Remember. Nights in Rodanthe. Dear John. The Last Song. From Mandy Moore to Miley Cyrus and now Taylor Schilling, Nicholas has SPARKed the careers of several Hollywood ingénues.

In his latest big screen love story, Logan (Ephron, High School Musical) is a Marine who travels to Louisiana after serving three tours of duty in Iraq. After a night raid, he finds a photo of a beautiful blonde, Beth (Taylor Schilling, Mercy). Logan thinks Beth was his good luck charm during the war. When he arrives in her small town, circumstances are complicated. She has a son and a bully/stalker ex-husband, Keith (Jay Ferguson, Mad Men).

Beth and her grandmother, Ellie (Blythe Danner, Meet the Parents), train and board dogs and are looking for help at their kennel. Enter Logan, the mysterious soldier boy who walks in and changes their lives. Will Beth and Logan become star-crossed lovers?

Nicholas Sparks

(credit: theluckyonemovie.warnerbros.com)

All Glory Is Fleeting

In The Notebook, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams make-out in the rain. Their on-screen chemistry is so palpable, you aren’t surprised when they have an off-screen romance. In The Lucky One, Zac Ephron and Taylor Schilling make-out in an outdoor shower. What’s with Nicholas Sparks and his penchant for soaking wet characters kissing? Unlike Ryan and Rachel, don’t expect the same level of sizzle from Zac and Taylor.

Did you know Taylor, 27, is three years older than 24-year-old Zac? According to the script, Beth and Keith graduated high school together. Yet, Jay Ferguson is ten years older than Taylor Schilling. Hello, casting department. Love the hotties, but come on. I was amazed to discover Blythe Danner is 69. Considering her real-life daughter, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, is almost 40, I was dubious her movie granddaughter could be as old as Beth. Danner’s real granddaughter, Apple, is turning 8. Blythe Danner has aged well.

Aside from cheesy lines such as “Finding that picture was like finding an angel in hell” or “You should be kissed every day, every hour, every second,” my major complaint with The Lucky One is with the stars questionable chemistry. Zac’s character has quiet strength, but quite frankly, he’s a little boring. Usually in acting, less is more. Maybe in this case, Logan needs more.

I’ve never seen Taylor Schilling in anything. I found her character boring, too. She has some tense scenes with her ex-husband that wax dramatic, but her scenes with her Nanna are the most watchable. That’s because Blythe Danner is the seasoned actress on the set.

Why does Beth drive an obligatory red pick-up truck? Does everyone in the south really drive red pick-up trucks? Seems like a cliché. Stereotypes masquerade as substance in the minor roles of Judge Clayton and his wife as well as the town locals.

Overall, The Lucky One feels like a made-for-TV movie. The Notebook is superior in storytelling and casting, but The Lucky One has enough luster to whet the appetite of the ardent Nicholas Sparks/chick flick fan.

The Lucky One opens in theatres April 20th. The official website is theluckyonemovie.warnerbros.com.

>> More Motor City Musing With Vicki Briganti

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