Film Review: ‘The Lucky One,’ starring Zac Efron & Taylor Schilling

Another year, another Nicholas Sparks film! Now, I will admit that while I tend to give Sparks a lot of flak, mostly because of this, I do give his movies a fair shot. Sometimes the combination of melodrama, cliché and eye candy can make a winning result. Without a doubt, moviegoers think so because they keep flocking to see his movies. His latest film is The Lucky One, starring the incredibly attractive Zac Efron.

Before the screening, Sparks was there to introduce the film to the audience. It was a pretty lengthy introduction. He told us about how he came up with the story for The Lucky One, how the film came to be and some it’s deviations from the novel. But what really caught my attention was when he spoke about how there is a fine line between cliché and familiar, melodrama and moving, and finally manipulative and sincerity. (Those weren’t his exact words, but it conveys the same point he was trying to make.) It came as a surprise to me that Sparks would say that, especially when his movies come out as cliché, melodramatic and a bit manipulative. Not to say that makes them not enjoyable because I will admit that I do like some of his movies. They may have all those elements, yet their winning quality is passion. But I can’t say that about The Lucky One. Yes, it’s melodramatic, cliché and manipulative. However, its biggest downfall is its lack of passion.

The Lucky One begins with a Marine whose life is saved when he stops and finds a picture of a woman while on duty. The lucky Marine is Logan (Zac Efron), and when he heads back home to Denver, he’s dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of his friends had died, and he’s unsure why he’s still alive. He had promised a friend that he would find the woman in the picture and thank her for inadvertently saving his life. After a quick internet search, he finds that she lives in Louisiana. So he decides to walk there… from Colorado. (What? The dude likes to walk.) He finally meets the woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling), and she mistakenly thinks he’s there to apply for a job at her dog shelter. Logan chickens out of telling her why he’s really there, and decides to take the job instead.

Off the bat, this is a very different role for Efron. He turns off the charm, and goes full-force with the brooding. In fact, I think he broods a little too much in this movie. I understand he’s playing a person with PTSD, but he played it a little too dry. This is a romantic movie, where’s the passion? The intensity between Efron and Schilling was scattered. They had some good moments, and Schilling is a fine actress, but it didn’t have that “can’t live without each other” thing which makes any Nicholas Sparks movie worth seeing.

As for the film itself, it was boring. I did expect predictability, yet this one still managed to drag on and on. You think you’re approaching the ending and then, no, it keeps on going. I feel like some parts could have been cut out of the middle to make it flow better. My favorite part of the film was when Beth revealed that her brother had also died in the war. For someone like me who has a close relationship with a sibling, I found that scene to be very moving. However, that was merely one gem found in this pretty dull movie.

The bad pacing and lack of passion in The Lucky One is enough for me to say that you should skip seeing this movie in the theaters.  If you’re a fan of the book, I heard that there are many changes made in this adaptation. I haven’t read the book, but thought I’d warn book fans just in case. Sparks did mention that he was happy with the changes the movie made though. Also, I think someone needs to give Sparks a reality check about his books and movies ASAP. Anyway, if you really want to see The Lucky One, please wait to rent it. It’s a much better option, and you can pause it to behold the beauty that is Zac Efron because looking at him makes it a little more bearable.

The Lucky One hits theaters Friday, April 20th.

Gabrielle is 27 years old and lives in Chicago. She enjoys writing about film, TV, and books, but occasionally writes about music as well. In addition to writing for, she also the editor-in-chief and a co-founder. In her spare time, she’s either watching more movies and shows or reading more books, while continuously checking Twitter, which she may or may not be addicted to… Feel free to email her your thoughts, ideas and questions.