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"High School Musical" graduate Zac Efron grows up in "The Lucky One," a swoony romantic drama from the same schmaltz factory (aka author Nicholas Sparks) that gave us "The Notebook" and "Dear John." Efron plays Logan Thibault, a Marine who credits his survival after three tours in Iraq to a photo he found in the rubble.

Back home, Logan travels to Louisiana to find the woman in that photo: Beth Green (Taylor Schilling, star of the short-lived medical series "Mercy"), a single mom who runs a kennel with her very wise grandma (Blythe Danner). Tongue-tied by a combination of survivor's guilt and Will Fetters' dumbed-down script, Logan can't bring himself to tell Beth about the photo and winds up getting hired to work at the kennel.

Logan soon befriends Beth's son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart), and inserts himself in Beth's battles with her ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson), a deputy sheriff who gets away with thuggery because his daddy (Adam LeFevre) is the town judge. All of this serves as justification for the movie's true purpose, which is to show two gorgeous-looking actors, Efron and Schilling, in artfully photographed and tasteful PG-13 sex scenes.

Director Scott Hicks ("Shine") delivers those scenes as required, serving up Efron and Schilling's smoldering chemistry as well as hokey melodrama that Sparks' fans will consume like catnip. —


'The Lucky One'

Opens Friday, April 20, at theaters everywhere; rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence; 101 minutes. For more movie reviews, visit

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