Friday, April 20, 2012

Mission: Love

The lucky one? More like, the buff one.

I’m talking of course about how good Zac Efron looks in his new movie, The Lucky One, an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel for which the actor packed on almost 20 lbs. of muscle poundage.

The actor plays Sgt. Logan Thibault like a golden retriever of a former Marine – a good thing since he spends a great deal of his time working in the family-run dog kennel of the object of his affection, which, btw, is located in the most picturesque setting of Louisiana Ive ever seen committed to film.

Like, I want to go to there.

Ah, but I digress.

As I was saying, Efron spends a lot of time working and then quietly wooing the kennel’s owner, a woman named Beth, nicely and quirkily played by the lovely Taylor Schilling, whom you may know as the once-upon-a-time-two-seasons-ago star of TV’s Mercy.

Beth is initially reluctant to hire Logan. I think she finds his inner life much too mysterious, and his chivalry rather off-putting (Logan is the kind of guy who says things like “please” and “thank you” and calls Beths doting grandmother – Blythe Danner, an earthy hoot as always – “maam,” while her ex is the son of a prominent local big deal and a cop with a short fuse). She’s wary of him as soon as he mentions he’s a vet and reluctant to hire him, but he ultimately gets the job (thanks, grandma!)

Obviously, it’s only a matter of time until she takes a shining to the guy. How could she not, after all? He’s got 20 lbs. of young Marine-ness on him, a killer smile (when he smiles), and baby blues that are as debunking as any I’ve ever seen. Surely, if she doesn’t want him....

Nah, I’m not going there. Anyway....

This being a (light) romantic drama based on a Sparks novel, know this meet isn’t happenstance. Logan came to find her because Beth is the woman in the photo he found while proudly serving his third tour of duty out in Iraq – a pic he came to think of as lucky charm for coming upon it quite literally saved his life.

Of course, this is the conflict of the story: Logan has a secret about Beth and her...significance to him, and as secrets do, this one eventually comes out, jeopardizing the couple’s burgeoning relationship and his bond with her adorable young son.

I won’t spoil how the whole thing unravels because, this being a Sparks novel, you probably know there’ll be some sort of tragic twist to the whole thing. So that leaves me with having to focus on the acting and the chemistry between Efron an Schilling.

Let’s start with the latter.

This most-photogenic pairs works well together. It’s no wonder there were short-lived rumors the two were hooking up off-set while making The Lucky One. But she looks a bit too old for him; try as he might, Efron's still got a mean baby face, and some scruff ain’t gonna cut it, buddy. Not that Schilling is that much older than him – a quick IMDb search said she’s only three years his senior. She just looks a lot more...wise than he does (which helps her character, but not the’s a bit distracting).

This brings me to the former topic of discussion, the acting.

Schilling shows off some nice potential-leading-lady chops, although I’m not sure she’s quite there yet, as in ready for the silver screen. Or maybe this just wasn’t the proper intro – having seen her on Mercy, albeit briefly, I know she has more in her than playing somewhat-suffering stock.

Efron, meanwhile, also acquits himself well as a leading man, but, again, he’s a zygote. I’m not sayin he should be playing 17 again (see what I did there, Efron fans?), but when he’s given material that has him doing a confessional and his acting comes off a bit Nicolas Cage-y...I’m not sure that’s good. Oh, and the movie loses points for not featuring the guy shirtless more. Twenty pounds of muscle.... Hello!

Still, though, The Lucky One, while not the best one, just might be a nice-enough date-night time. So check it out – if anything, it’ll give ya an idea for a future getaway. Otherwise, wait until you can watch it in the comfort of your own home with your lucky one.

My Rating **

Photo: Warner Bros.

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