If you've been on my site before and looked around a bit, you've probably noticed that there really aren't any films that are built around love stories and romance. I have a hard time watching them and I try to avoid them whenever I can. While I still feel that way, I decided that I might review more of these movies in order to continue to make The Movie Picture Show more diverse. So that's why I'm reviewing The Lucky One at this point and time.
While on his third tour in Iraq, U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Zac Effron) finds a picture of an American woman that he doesn't know. After somehow making it out of several risky situations, he begins to think that this picture might be some kind of good luck charm that's repeatedly getting him off the hook. Once he returns home he decides to find the unknown woman and ends up taking a job a dog kennel run by her family. Although not trusting him at first, a romance begins to develop between the two.
I have to point out that The Lucky One caught me off guard to an extent. I pictured this as something that was going to be sappy, girly and completely corny. While it did have some of those things, it didn't have as much of that as I originally thought it would and it was a little more mature than I had anticipated. With that being said, I'm not a fan of this movie for a few reasons. I'm just surprised that those sappy and girly moments aren't the things that bring the film down in my eyes.
What hurts The Lucky One is the sub par performances by the two actors in the lead roles. Zac Effron displayed some very robotic acting skills through the entire film. Whenever he was supposed to be laughing or having a good time, he had this smile on his face that looked as if it had been drawn on to him. He pretty much only had two other facial expressions outside of the smile that we see. He had the normal straight face which was to be expected and he also had his "almost worried" face where he seemed to be worried, but not that worried. His portrayal of his character while using any of the aforementioned expressions seemed lifeless and emotionless. He certainly needs to develop his range as an actor.
When looking at Taylor Schilling and her performance, I have to look at things differently. She did try her best, but she didn't fit the role and the movie appeared to eat her alive whenever the script called for her to be more dramatic. While Effron puts on an extremely vacant performance, Schilling is simply overacting. She had her vanilla moments as well, but the overacting stood out the most. Needless to say, the chemistry between the two isn't a thing of beauty.
There are some much better performances though, and they come from Blythe Danner and Riley Thomas Stewart as they played Beth's mother Ellie and Beth's son Ben respectively. Their acting abilities and overall on-screen charm stabilize and even brighten the scenes that they are pivotal in. Danner plays the wise, funny and supportive mother to Schilling's character Beth. She had complete command of her role and never did she miss a beat in the process.
The same can be said about Stewart and what he was able to do. His character is intelligent, lovable and charismatic. It sometimes feels like you're watching adults in the bodies of children when they have characters like this in movies, but not in this case. He looks like a child, acts like a child and never crosses that line where he feels too mature. Like his on-screen grandmother, he also has great command of his character.
The best parts of The Lucky One come during the end sequences. At this point of the movie, the scenes and events themselves take over the drama that the leads were unable to deliver. If the movie as a whole was as good as some of these scenes, I might have actually liked this one.
It's not a terrible movie and it was at least watchable, but I know that it didn't achieve all that it could have. You can see that there's potential for a decent story in there some where, but it never has a chance to grow due to the lead actors faltering and not having the believable chemistry between them. Maybe a few more scenes of passion (non sexual) and bonding between the two would have helped. Either way, they needed to add more to it.
Understandably, the target demographic might be able to enjoy this more than I could. This would be especially true for fans of the book since they may already have a connection to these characters. If you're not a member of the audience that they're looking for, then you might not be as engaged in this one as they are.
Director: Scott Hicks
Riley Thomas Stewart
Jay R. Ferguson
Film Length: 101 minutes
Release Date: April 20, 2012
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures