It is a unique thing for every novelist to take a realistic episode and unite it into his stories, to use novels as a formula of pain therapy, but Nicholas Sparks — whose sister died at the age of 33 — has twisted that poor woman’s passing into a goddamn industry. I’ve seen ample of Sparks’ movies now, unfortunately, that the tone shifting and where-the-fuck-did-that-come-from death in the mid of a romantic scenario doesn’t faze me anymore. In fact, it’s kind of a fun game: Trying to understand who will bite it in the end. Will it be a death that, though sad, reliefs to close the deal on the romantic storyline? Or will it be one of those gut-punch deaths where one of the romantic leads will die unexpectedly and tragically?
So, The Lucky One. Like all earlier Sparks’ adaptations, The Lucky One is a trite love story that floats pointlessly until Nicholas’ Reaper lowers his sickle. Zac Effron is Logan (because of course he is), a Marine who discovers a picture of a woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling), in a war zone. After Logan endures three tours in Iraq, he attributes it to this picture of “an angel in hell.” So, he sets about trying to find her, walking from Colorado to Louisiana, so he can thank her for saving his life. Problem is, when he finds her — at a dog kennel — he can’t bring himself to find the words, so instead he takes a job as a handyman/dog walker. Over water-splashing canoe trips in the pond, kitchen dances, and piano recitals in church, Beth and Logan fall in love. The rub? Beth has an gorgeous son, whose father — Beth’s ex — is an obnoxious asshole and a local cop with a lot of influences in the small Southern town. He wants to keep Beth and Logan apart, and the kid gets trapped in the middle.