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The Lucky One Review: The Continuing Adventures of Nicholas Sparks' Pathetic Manipulation Porn

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | April 20, 2012 | Comments ()


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It's one thing for a novelist to take a real-life event and incorporate it into his stories, to use novels as a form of grief therapy, but Nicholas Sparks -- whose sister died at the age of 33 -- has turned that poor woman's passing into a goddamn industry. I've seen enough of Sparks' movies now, unfortunately, that the tonally inconsistent and where-the-fuck-did-that-come-from death in the middle of a romantic storyline doesn't phase me anymore. In fact, it's kind of a fun game: Trying to figure out who will bite it in the end. Will it be a death that, though sad, helps to close the deal on the romantic storyline? Or will it be one of those gut-punch deaths where one of the romantic leads will die suddenly and tragically?

No offense to the Nicholas Sparks' audience, but really, what the fuck? Are you so starved for tragedy in your actual life that you need the escapism of manipulation porn? Do you somehow get off on the unexpected passing of others? Do you like being hosed by an amateur? If you've seen one Nicholas Sparks' movie, you know exactly what you're getting in to, and my question is: Why would you get into it? I don't mean to get all meathead on you or anything, but shit, man: There's never even any blood. There's no zombies. There's no dismemberments or caterwauling blood geysers. Where's the joy? Torture porn is perverse, but at least there's some confetti with your death party. Nicholas Sparks' manipulation porn is like a birthday party in an empty room with only a cake and someone kicked over the cake? Why would you want to eat smushed, dirt cake? The five-second rule doesn't apply, you know? Because one-second dead or five-seconds dead, there's no making out with the corpse. I mean, goddamn: Ask me who I want to hang out with on a Saturday afternoon, an Eli Roth fan or a Nicholas Sparks fan, and I'll go with Roth every time. At least they're transparent about their depravity. Nicholas Sparks fans? They're just sick in the head, and their cats are mean.

So, The Lucky One. Like all previous Sparks' adaptations, The Lucky One is a banal love story that drifts aimlessly until Nicholas' Reaper lowers his sickle. Zac Effron is Logan (because of course he is), a Marine who discovers a picture of a woman, Beth, in a war zone. After Logan survives three tours in Iraq, he attributes it to this picture of "an angel in hell." So, he sets about trying to find her, walking from Colorado to Louisiana, so he can thank her for saving his life. Problem is, when he finds her -- at a dog kennel -- he can't bring himself to find the words, so instead he takes a job as a handyman/dog walker. Over water-splashing canoe trips in the pond, kitchen dances, and piano recitals in church, Beth and Logan fall in love. The rub? Beth has an adorable son, whose father -- Beth's ex -- is an abusive asshole and a local cop with a lot of connections in the small Southern town. He wants to keep Beth and Logan apart, and the kid gets stuck in the middle.

The question that thus arises about twenty minutes into the movie is this: Who will die? Will it be Beth, at the hands of her ex? Will it be Logan, trying to save Beth from her ex? Will it be the kid, who gets caught in a struggle between Logan, Beth and her ex? Will it be a murder suicide? Or will it be the ex, whose death will sadden only the son? I'm not going to ruin it for you, because should you be forced against your will to watch The Lucky One someday, I don't want to spoil the only joy that can be gained from watching: The game of who will die?

Look: If you're into manipulation porn, you can do better than Nicholas Sparks. Put away your Kleenex, sack up, and grow a pair. Nicholas Sparks is for tear-jerk rookies. You want real manipulation porn? Rent My Life Without Me. You will bawl until your uterus falls out.







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