You can take the guy out of ‘High School Musical,’ but you can’t the ‘High School Musical’ out of the guy. Zac Efron might have sprouted a few tattoos and a stubbly beard but he still looks a bit too babyfaced to play a guy like ‘The Lucky One”s U.S Marine Sargent Logan Thibault, a 25-year-old veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq. In theory, Logan suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. In practice, Efron is just a quiet dude with a surprisingly extensive wardrobe of dark wash denim jeans.
The boyishly handsome Efron may not be the ideal man to represent the struggles of returning Iraq War veterans onscreen, but he’s an appropriate one for a film like ‘The Lucky One,’ a romantic drama based on a novel by Nicolas Sparks, the author of ‘The Notebook,’ ‘Message in a Bottle,’ and assorted other films that give men the uncontrollable urge to come with an excuse why they can’t take their wives to the movies on Friday night. Sparks and director Scott Hicks are less interested in the plight of returning soldiers than in the vagaries of fate, destiny, and movie schmaltz.
The film follows Logan as he searches for the woman in a picture he found by chance on the battlefield. Reaching down to pull it out of the sand saved his life, and so he declares the woman his good luck angel and determines to meet her after he returns home. It might sound difficult to locate a random woman in a mysterious photograph out of the hundreds of millions of people in this country. Nope; Logan finds his angel, a single mom named Beth (Taylor Schilling), before the end of the opening credits. They don’t call him the lucky one for nothing.
Beth mistakes Logan for a job applicant at her dog kennel; struggling to find the words to explain how he knows her without sounding like a borderline psychotic stalker, he plays along. Soon he’s teaching agility courses and heaving heavy bags of kibble while Beth watches from her kitchen window as she orgasmically rinses her dirty pots and pans (no, really). Erotic dishwashing doesn’t sit well with Beth’s cruel ex-husband Keith (Jay R.