A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like other romances based on Nicholas Sparks novels -- including The Last Song, Dear John, and The Notebook -- The Lucky One is filled with swoony, sentimental moments involving a pair of star-crossed lovers kept apart by their life challenges and personal struggles. Expect some gauzy love scenes (mostly kissing and early stage undressing -- no private parts are seen, though the top of a male backside is visible); infrequent swearing ("s--t," etc.), some drinking by adults, some tense scenes of peril and confrontation, and jarring-but-not-graphic wartime scenes in which grenades explode and soldiers are shot dead. Although the movie means well overall, it does suggest that women need the love of a good man to be able to love themselves.
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What's the story?
Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) returns from his third tour of duty shell-shocked, having survived not one but a handful of close calls. The biggest one was a face-off with the enemy that left many dead. But somehow, Logan was spared when he stopped to pick up a picture on the ground -- the good-luck charm of an unknown soldier. The photo is that of a beautiful woman, whose soothing face Logan thinks somehow protects him from harm. When he goes home, Logan makes it his mission to find the woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling). While winning her heart isn't hard, keeping it is.
Is it any good?
As Nicholas Sparks romances go, THE LUCKY ONE is one of the better ones -- quite a feat, considering it doesn't star Ryan Gosling. Efron and Schilling share an easy chemistry, which is key, of course. But as a romantic story on its own, The Lucky One doesn't hold a candle to the classics of the genre -- The English Patient if we're to get lofty, or even An Officer and a Gentleman.
Those movies boast a complexity that evokes the complications of life on two battlefield fronts: love and war. The Lucky One isn't so lucky (or, rather, well crafted). It's bogged down by hokey dialogue and stilted acting. Efron, who actually has shown some talent, appears to think "wooden" passes for "mysterious" here. Only Blythe Danner, as Beth's grandmother, is unscathed. She's witty and breezy and soulful in all the right moments, and we're lucky for that.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why romantic movies often seem to have female characters who can't seem to find their strength and center without first falling in love. What's the message here?
How does The Lucky One depict romance and relationships? Do you think it's realistic/accurate?
What is the movie saying about the toll that war takes on soldiers?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.