I like Zac Efron. I think the 24-year-old actor has a bright future as a leading man.

That potential is wasted in his latest film "The Lucky One." a sappy and incredibly dull designed to tug at the heart strings. The adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel wants to be "The Notebook" or "The Vow," and it comes up way short of either film.

Efron stars as Logan, a Marine who is in the midst of his third tour of duty in Iraq. One day he discovers a photo of a young woman in the rubble and becomes convinced that photo is his good luck charm.

When he returns home he sets out to find the woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling), to thank her for keeping him alive. But as he gets to know Beth, a divorced mother trying to break away from her bullying ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson), he realizes she may be more than a good luck charm - she may well be the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

This is one of those movies where lack of communication is used to force conflict, even though it all seems trivial. The main conflict in "The Lucky One" evolves from Logan's inability to tell Beth the real reason he showed up on her door step - even though it doesn't exactly feel like it is that big of a deal (especially by the time it is revealed).

There is also the who subplot with the ex-husband, who is nothing more than one of those vile movie villain caricatures.

The script has plenty of problems, but casting is also a big issue.

Schilling is pretty and all, but her character is too predictable. She also doesn't quite have the chemistry with Efron that the movie probably wants her to have, a flaw that really limits the sparks during the film's numerous romantic montages.

Efron is playing an introverted so spoken character who keeps his emotions to himself. And while he is fine, it's a role that is the complete opposite of Efron's strengths. I think he is more suited as an energetic personality full of life and character, something Logan definitely is not.

A film like "Me and Orson Welles" did a much better job of playing to Efron's strengths. And while I'll give him credit for attempting to show range, it would be more impressive if it was done in a film a little more challenging than "The Lucky One."

Grade: D+


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