The Lucky One

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Lucky One Movie Poster Image
Sweet but formulaic love story OK for teen romantics.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The Lucky One promotes the ideas that struggles don't have to define you and that you must learn to stand up for yourself. Also, that love heals,  that family bonds are very powerful, and that loyalty matters. But it also perpetuates the notion that women, no matter how capable, need the love of a good man to be able to love themselves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Almost all of the characters, even the one obviously pitched as the "bad guy," have a soft side. Logan is kind, earnest, and principled, and -- despite some nightmares and sadness -- appears generally intact after the war. Beth is a caring mother and daughter. Together, they're a beacon of niceness.


Gunfight in the middle of a war, with some soldiers shot dead. Innocent bystanders also die. Explosions in war zones. The war scenes in general feel menacing. An abusive man stalks his ex-wife and threatens her when she doesn't give into his demands. Later, he gets into a fight with another man and brandishes a gun at him. A harrowing scene shows people about to fall into a raging river during a storm.


Couples kiss passionately in the shower and in a bedroom while they remove each other's clothing (shot in close-ups that don't show private parts); sex is implied on more than one occasion. One scene depicts the woman with her hand down the back of a man's pants, with the upper part of his backside showing.


Relatively infrequent use of words including "s--t," "damn," "hell," "goddamn," and "ass."


An iPod is seen, as is a Mitsubishi car.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink on dates and at social functions. The movie's bad guy gets drunk and starts a fight with another man. Beth gets a little tipsy during a date.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTayla M. April 2, 2018

Swooning over Zac

I loved this film. I think it has a great plot and shows good characters. I’ve got to admit I love Zac Efron and I think he did amazing at portraying his marine... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bygagneriley24 November 30, 2018

Parents Please Read...

Very inappropriate. The movie was great accept for the long sex scene. If your younger teens want to see I think it would fine for 14+ as long as you fast forwa... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byClaryFray March 20, 2017

Movie is great, but doesn't live up to the book

The Lucky One was a great movie, one of the best Nicholas Sparks' adaptations. I recommend reading the book first, but teens will love it. A great movie a... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

Themes & Topics

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