Evidently, summer fluff doesn't come any fluffier than a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Viewers familiar with the movies based on his bestsellers (The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, among others) know what to except: A maudlin romance between two wounded souls, contrivances galore and tidal waves of bathos.
The Lucky One
The Lucky One conforms to the well-worn formula. An American soldier (Efron, vapid) returns home from the Iraq war with the photograph of a woman retrieved from the battlefield. Convinced that she’s his guardian angel, he tracks down the single mother (Schilling), accepts a job at her family-run kennel, bonds with her young son and — no spoiler alert, this — wins her affections.
The sob opera is short on dramatic substance despite the periodic intrusion of a jealous ex-husband and the damp resolution on a storm-ravaged suspension bridge. On a more positive note, the picturesque Louisiana countryside is enticingly photographed. The romantic leads are eclipsed by Blythe Danner as the unflappable grandmother and Riley Thomas Stewart as her violinist grandson. Unfortunately, The Lucky One doesn't hit the right notes.