Based on Nicholas Sparks' bestseller The Lucky One, Zac Efron stars alongside Taylor Schilling and Blythe Danner in this romantic drama directed by Academy Awardr-nominated writer/director Scott Hicks. U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Efron) returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive-a photograph he found of a woman he doesn't even know. Learning her name is Beth (Schilling) and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm.
As a tourism advertisement for Louisiana, where filming took place, The Lucky One makes the most of a scenic state. As an opportunity for Zac Efron (High School Musical) to prove his acting mettle, it's less successful. On his third tour of duty in Iraq, Efron's Sgt. Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a pretty blonde that reads "keep safe" on the back. After a series of close scrapes, he credits his survival to the memento. Upon his release, Logan retrieves his German shepherd and sets out for North Carolina (it's never clear how he figures that out as a destination). When he finds Beth (Taylor Schilling), who runs a kennel with her grandmother (Blythe Danner), he doesn't know how to tell her about the picture, so he takes a job working with the dogs, and befriends her son (Riley Thomas Stewart), a chess prodigy, while inspiring jealousy in her hotheaded ex-husband, Keith (Jay R. Ferguson, who looks more like a marine than Efron). The climactic storm at the end provides the opportunity for Logan to come clean and for Keith to prove he isn't a complete loser, allowing romance to bloom between the central couple. In drawing from the novel by Nicholas Sparks, Shine's Scott Hicks offers a picture-postcard romance that feels too much like a Lifetime movie. Though Efron, who made a stronger impression in Me and Orson Welles, never overacts, his recessive performance renders Logan more opaque than necessary. --Kathleen C. Fennessy