It was only a matter of time before Zac Efron was enlisted for an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks romantic novel. Here, he’s Logan, a marine who dodged death in Iraq in a chain of events involving a photo of a stranger, Beth (Taylor Schilling). Tracking her down, Logan gets a job at Beth’s family-run kennels. As they grow close, he feels unable to reveal the story behind the photo – he doesn’t want to be taken for a superstitious stalker, after all.
While frustrating, this deception lends tension to an otherwise routine melodrama: Schilling and Efron lack chemistry and the dialogue is perfunctory. Efron is fine (arguably more interesting in the wartime flashbacks) and Blythe Danner is likeable as Beth’s mother. There’s also a cute kid and an abusive ex to hate. But even taken as simple schmaltz, ‘The Lucky One’ lacks the romantic impact of the adaptation of Sparks’s ‘The Notebook’ or even the Channing Tatum-starrer ‘Dear John’.