Author and screenwriter Nicholas Sparks seems like a nice man. I met him. He's personable, and he appears to be happy.
But honestly, he's starting to worry me, because I think he enjoys killing off people in his books and movies a little too much. There's a closet serial killer lurking in the recesses of his imagination and he simply can't help himself.
Not surprisingly, "The Lucky One" is no different.
So with all due respect, Nick, get some help!
But enough of that. "The Lucky One" is the story of a Marine who survives the war in Iraq and returns home to thank the person, he believes, was his lucky charm.
After a rough night of combat, he sees an object "gleaming" in the rubble, walks over to pick it up and it turns out to be the photo of a beautiful young woman standing in front of a lighthouse. On the back it simply reads, "Take care."
At that very moment, a mortar round lands at the spot where he previously sat. Several members of his platoon are killed. He survives to complete his third tour of duty at the ripe old age of 25.
Logan (Zac Efron) comes home to live with his sister's family in Colorado, but flashbacks haunt him, putting his nephews in a state of fear. So he finds the very same lighthouse in a photo on the Internet and decides to set out on foot with his trusty German shepherd, from Colorado to Louisiana.
For the geographically challenged, that's a long walk.
Never mind that Logan's a war veteran and that any trucker in America would have been honored to stop and give him a ride. He prefers to walk. It clears his head. Sure, why not.
When he arrives at his destination, he shows the photo around, discovers Beth (Taylor Schilling) runs a family dog kennel in a state of disrepair -- and just as he's about to whip out the photo, thank her for being his symbolic guardian angel, she interrupts him and says, "Oh, you're here about the 'help wanted' ad!" Really? So he just tucks the photo away and decides to be the new handyman? Come on!
Now, I can appreciate a good, old-fashioned love story like the next guy, but it's these awkward and forced Nicholas Sparks moments that make me crazy.
And then throw in the which-character-will-he-kill-off sweepstakes. Maybe it's grandma (Blythe Danner), as she gets caught in the middle of a domestic squabble? Maybe it's Beth's fair-haired son, who runs off into the bayou during a violent storm? Maybe it's the over-the-top jerk of an ex-husband? Hey, why not kill them all?
Come on, Nicky, pick somebody! You know you're dying to eliminate a character, either by disease, old age, hurricane or whatever.
Other than that, "The Lucky One" is a well-intended charmer. Zac and Taylor are cute together, the locales are cool, and romantics will swoon at every Sparks line like it's the reinvention of Shakespeare.
So I expect big, sobbing, swooning crowds.
Steve Salles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org