The Lucky One

Providing not so much a narrative as many opportunities for Zac Efron to walk firmly through some tall grass, The Lucky One is exactly what anyone willing to pay money to watch The Lucky One desires it to be: Zac Efron walking firmly through some tall grass. Sometimes he eats an apple as he walks. He doesn’t even get apple bits on his nice clean shirts or anything, it’s all just really nice and compact and firm. Those are the best times.

Efron plays Logan The Soldier Man; a lovely little soldier man who, it seems, made the mistake of going off to The War. This is a Nicholas Sparks film so we don’t spend a lot of time on the workings of this, but safe to say he’s in the war against people with the beards, who are – by all accounts – bastards. He also stupidly makes friends with people who aren’t famous actors, meaning that when they say the words “we’re goin’ home, boys!” in the opening five minutes you think to yourself, no, unfamous friend of Zac Efron’s character, you’re not. You’re going to die tragically. About twelve seconds later, they die tragically.

Logan survives only because his attention was momentarily diverted by a dropped photo of a lovely lady, and he swears that if he ever gets OFF THIS DAMN ISLAND (or whatever), he’s gonna track down that lady, and thank her for saving his life. But how on earth can he go about finding her? Is there any way he can discover who owned the photo to begin with, and what happened to them? Without an address, a name, anything but a slightly faded smiling photo, how IN HELL is he supposed embark on such an difficult – some might even say impossible – task? Luckily, Logan knows that if you walk around for a bit with a German Shepherd, things like plot validity cease to matter. And with that, he finds her.

Sure, he doesn’t tell this woman who he is, or where he’s come from, or why he’s here. Why would he, for God’s sake? Instead, he takes a job on her dog grooming farm (really) and slowly bonds with her adorable child, his dark secret (is it even a secret?) simmering sexily away in his every helpful bit of DIY. But dammit, the boy’s bastard father don’t like his son hanging around a chap who, you know, is so damn good at playing the piano and being nurturing and helping kids learn how to BE MEN but also has the soft lips of a tender lover and eyes that speak of boundless seductive grief – and this creates TENSION. Tension that has to, somehow, erm, you know OH FOR GOD’S SAKE JUST SHAG, WOULD YOU?

The Lucky One is fluffy nonsense, obviously. At its questionable best whilst happily splashing about in the sexual tension between our two leads (Zefron and an entirely pleasant Taylor Shilling), it indulges in orangey landscape shot after orangey landscape shot after bit in a pond after leading glances near a poodle until the force of sheer narrative necessity forces it grumpily to make the characters talk to each other about literally anything else. Zefron struggles to put anything awkward or haunting into his innately cheerful symmetry, whilst Schilling battles with a role that makes her swing haphazardly from irrational bitch to tearful war-griever to empowered mother even as the plot total fails to unfold.

Rushing towards an invariably Sparksy conclusion – a brazenly unlikely finale that hopes its audience will mistake basic human reaction for genuine emotional investment – The Lucky One simply cannot make an impact on anyone save those who are so besotted by Zefron they’d watch him joyfully in a coma. Whatever, it will probably free up some seats at a Marvel Avengers Assemble screening. Lucky, that.

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