Lucky in Love
If this film were a drink, it’d be a pastel pink milkshake. Unashamedly sugary, a little bit slushy and reassuringly comforting. From the director of Shine – which in liquid terms is Cognac with a kick – this might be a little bit unexpected. But with the teen-dream himself (none other than Zac Efron), and a plot adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Lucky One was always going to be a tug of war on the heartstrings.
The film briefly drags us into a war zone, before settling more comfortably into a romance-driven plot. Logan is a marine whose life is saved when he discovers a photograph of a mystery woman. When he returns home, he’s an outsider, and so embarks on a mission to track down the Jane Doe who’s become his lucky charm.
But it’s not a story as simple as ‘finders keepers’ for Logan. Once he’s found his guardian angel, she’s got a bouncer of her own, who comes in the shape of aggressive ex-hubbie Keith. This book was a best seller for a reason: because people love to get behind a protagonist with troubles, and see him overcome them while simultaneously rescuing a pretty girl (played by Taylor Schilling). The fact that Beth has baggage only makes Logan’s journey more heroic.
And a journey it sure is. Efron has graduated from the High School Musical era with honours. Aside from the buzz cut, his action man aesthetic is a result of gaining 20 pounds and undergoing fierce military training. Audiences will be split on his performance: It’s potentially wooden and bland; or he’s successfully portraying an awkward ex-marine who wants to keep his emotions under wraps.
His character is the equivalent of the infamous ‘man holding baby’ poster of the 90s. I mean he’s a muscular, dog-loving softie, who spends his time reciting Dr Seuss, playing the piano and undoing bras in one fell swoop; the Edward Cullen of the battlefield.
Similarly to the kids in Jerry Maguire and Kramer Vs Kramer, Riley is endearing without being saccharinely cute.
At points the film enters the realms of cliché, and the wardrobe looks like it’s stumbled out of a brand-spanking-new Ralph Lauren catalogue. But Hicks isn’t trying to be subtle or subversive here, he’s trying to satisfy a certain audience.
Whether you’re a loyal Efron fan eager to see him tackle something more substantial, or a Sparks groupie looking to fill the void of The Notebook, you’ll be sure to find plenty here that’s reassuring.
So sit back and slurp up the milkshake. It might not be food for thought, but now and then everyone needs a sugar fix.