When going to see a Nicholas Sparks movie, it’s difficult for one to not constantly compare it to his first hit The Notebook. That said, The Lucky One is Spark’s best movie since the 2004 film.

The Lucky One, Spark’s latest film based novel, a brooding Logan (Zac Efron, Seventeen Again), a deployed Marine with three tours and post-traumatic stress under his belt. After a night raid he discovers a picture of a young blonde, seconds after Logan retrieves the photo, an explosion erupts exactly where he would have been standing had he not seen the shiny object.

Logan, believing the picture saved his life, vows to find the woman when he returns home. An Internet search brings Logan to Hamden, Connecticut. Let’s pause to point out a film flaw; how Logan ever discovers where the woman lives through the Internet is completely unexplained, then to make the movie seem even more unrealistic, he walks to find her from Colorado to find her. This point of the movie will leave viewers completely baffled. At a bar one night, a man tells Logan where he can find the woman in the photo.

The next day he finds Beth (Taylor Schilling, Mercy) at her home. She runs a dog kennel with her grandmother (Blythe Danner, Meet the Fockers). When they meet Logan can’t find the courage to explain why he’s there. Beth finds him odd but her grandma finds him interesting and hires him that day. The dynamic is pretty cliche, girl doesn’t like hot guy, hot guy is persistent enough to get what he wants. In addition to grandma liking Logan, Beth’s young son, Ben becomes fond of him too. Of course Beth’s sociopathic ex-husband, Keith, who is the town sheriff and the son of a powerful local judge, doesn’t like Logan intruding on what he believes is still his.

If you can’t see where this is going, this is probably the perfect movie for you. If you can see where it’s going but don’t mind, it’s probably still the perfect movie for you.

Zac Efron fans, will see The Lucky One as a big step in his progression toward being one of Hollywood’s leading men, though he isn’t there yet. His dedication to the film is evident in every scene. Physically, he worked to show more confidence in the film’s quieter moments.

So many expectations, The Lucky One yet again doesn’t capture the magic of The Notebook but comes closer than any of Spark’s other films.

The Lucky One– 4 stars. Needs help, but worth seeing.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and for some violence.

Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes

Opened: 4/20/2012

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