Starring Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner. (12A)
High School Musical star Zac Efron, subject of many a teenage girl’s first crush, is now all grown up (Look! He has stubble!) and – gulp – playing a twenty-something marine in love with a divorced mother in this romantic drama from Shine director Scott Hicks.
Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel (he’s the bloke who’s written such weepies as The Notebook, A Walk To Remember and Dear John so you know what sort of movie to expect here), this has young Logan (Efron) finding a picture of an unknown woman in the rubble of an explosion in Iraq. He carries her picture with him and when he returns home, sets off to find the girl he believes was his good luck charm. After finding her (Beth, as played by Schilling) very easily, Logan doesn’t tell her who he is or why he’s there (because that would be sensible) and instead gets a job at Beth’s dog kennel business, charming her, her mother (Danner) and her son in the process. Beth’s grumpy ex (Jay R Ferguson) isn’t so keen, so if you’ve watched any other movies based on Sparks’ books, you’ll know there will be tears and recriminations to come.
It’s all pretty predictable and formulaic as brooding Efron wanders through a picture-postcard Louisiana (it’s all sunsets and pretty rivers with not a concrete mall in sight) trying not to trip over the movie’s numerous clichés as he goes. Nothing much happens, and you soon realise that if any of the characters had just sat down and talked to each other the whole thing would have been resolved in five minutes instead of an hour and a half. Schilling is fine if forgettable, and Efron looks yummy but deserves a better ‘adult’ vehicle than this one.
None. Parents of pre-teens should note that while this is a grown-up romance, the love scene is very tame and suitable for the over 10s. There is no real nudity, although (steady on) we do get a glimpse of Zac’s bottom in very snug pants.