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Sparks Notes: No, Zac Efron, I'm 'The Lucky One'

“Sparks Notes” is one hot-blooded woman’s deep dive into the Nicholas Sparks film oeuvre. Each week, we’ll journey through another movie based on a Sparks novel. Why? Because I’m a lover of romance, the gratuitous use of extremely well-made male forearms, and honestly, I have the time. So, if you’re a Sparks fan, join me as we feel the love, mourn the dying, ogle all the beautiful people who moved to North Carolina, and cry … a lot. Sounds fun, right? Needless to say: SPOILERS ABOUND.

On the chopping block today: The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron and Orange is the New Black‘s Taylor Schilling. It should be known that I’m a Zac Efron fan. I didn’t initially buy into the whole High School Musical thing, but I find him to be a delightful comedic actor these days. Sure, there’s Neighbors, but don’t tell me there aren’t several laugh-out-loud moments in 17 Again, too. Okay, you can tell me thatbut I’ll refuse to hear you.

The Lucky One | Released Apr 20, 2012

Directed by Scott Hicks | Written by Will Fetters, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks

Starring Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner


TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT-ISH: Sergeant Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) should be dead. After a fatal night raid during his third tour of duty, Logan sees a mysterious photo of a blond babe in the rubble. As he goes to pick it up, the spot he was previously sitting on gets blown to bits. The photo becomes Logan’s “guardian angel” while on duty.

When he returns home to Colorado, he does some top-notch Googling and finds out the lighthouse in the photo matches a lighthouse in a small Louisiana town and heads thereon footJust call him the Lizzie Bennet of the Marine Corps.

Anyway, he asks one guy in one bar if he knows the woman in the photo, and lo and behold, he does! No time for plausibility, people—we have shower sex to get to!

Logan heads to the local kennel and meets owner Beth Green (Taylor Schilling), the woman from the photo. As he fumbles to tell her what brought him here, she mistakenly assumes he’s applying for a job. Since his first impression is that of a person who has been lobotomized, Beth wants nothing to do with him—but her grandmother, Ellie (Blythe Danner), knows good forearms when she seems them, and hires him.

Logan turns out to be a model employee: He’s excellent with the dogs, he can fix a tractor, he befriends Beth’s nerdy son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart), and he comforts Beth as she mourns the loss of her brother Drake, also a Marine (and owner of the photo, duh!). He does not, however, come clean about the real reason he’s there. This will become a problem.

Beth eventually sees Logan as more than an employee when he stops an argument Beth is having with her ex-husband, Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), who is getting physical. Logan is keeping her safe and will let little Ben perform magic tricks for him. We’re all swooning, Beth. They finally go on a date, and Logan tells Beth that she “should be kissed every day, every minute, every hour.” I get the sentiment, but that just sounds exhausting. Beth is into it, though.


Not into it? Keith. He threatens to take Ben away from Beth permanently, which he can do because he’s a hot-shot cop and his horrible dad is a fancy judge. Beth feels trapped, but wise Blythe Danner tells her to get a grip, girl, and stand up to that fool (basically). Beth pretty much dares Keith to take her to court, like a badass, and she rides the high of telling off her bully ex-husband by heading to Logan’s to, um, ride him.

Logan continues to become a welcomed part of the family—even getting shy Ben to play the violin in front of an audience—while still stumbling anytime he tries to come clean about finding Beth’s photo.

You waited too long, Logan! Keith discovers the truth and spills the beans. So Logan gets the boot, but not before it dawns on him that Beth’s brother is the soldier he watched die saving one of his own men in that fateful night raid, and goes to tell Beth to give her some closure.

Unfortunately, everyone at the Green house is a little preoccupied. Keith returns to proclaim he wants to be a family again. Beth, thankfully, remembers that Keith is a dick and turns him down. He threatens to take Ben away, but Ben bolts out of the house—in the middle of a terrible rainstorm, of course—and makes for his rickety treehouse in the woods, above a creek (real safe, guys).

Everyone, including Logan, runs after Ben. Keith grabs hold of his son before being swept under the water and passes him to Logan. Keith, however, is stuck. Before Logan can reach Keith, THE TREEHOUSE FALLS ON TOP OF HIM. R.I.P. Keith.

They’re all kind of sad about Keith, but as soon as Logan tells Beth that her brother died a hero, she’s basically recovered and completely in love with that handsome drifter who creepily carried her photo around. How could you not be, though? HE CLEANED HER GUTTERS. And I mean that in every sense of the phrase.

AND WHAT DID WE LEARN ABOUT LOVE IN CLASS TODAY? I think Nicholas Sparks wanted us to learn about being brave enough to follow your destiny and find true love, but what I actually learned is that good lighting and a broad, well-defined back can make your average creeper seem like a brooding, romantic lead. Impressionable teens should be wary of men who walk across state lines to find you, move in nearby, and play your piano while you’re out. This lesson brought to you by Adults Against Bella Swan and Her Terrible Life Choices.

BUT HOW DID IT MAKE YOU FEEL? Great! It’s not my favorite in the Sparks collection, but it’s close. Aside from Keith taking a treehouse to the face, everyone ends up pretty happy. True love! Destiny! Zac Efron tossing a seemingly endless supply of dog food out of a truck while wearing a tight shirt! WE’RE ALL WINNERS.


  • Are the two main characters from different worlds? As much as Colorado and Louisiana are different worlds, I guess.
  • Are there parents who don’t approve? Resident third wheel Keith stands in as the disapproving family member here. But he bites it, so … lesson learned?
  • Is there time spent palling around in some type of water-based location? There’s lots of family time spent in boats. But water is also a big-time MURDERER in this movie. Everyone thinks water is all romantic until someone dies.
  • Does someone die? Keith goes out Wicked Witch of the East–style.
  • Is there a wise older person? Blythe Danner’s Ellie is cheekily wise. I’d honestly watch a two hour gal-pal movie about Ellie and her choir-mates. Moscow Mules for everyone!
  • Do the men perform activities that require well-developed forearms? SO MANY ACTIVITIES, YOU GUYS. We’re treated to the ones we’ve come to know and love: boat paddling, painting, heavy lifting, you know the drill. But then we’re introduced to two of my new favorite forearm activities: fixing gutters and dismantling guns (mutually exclusive).

In the next edition, Miley Cyrus meets Gale Hawthorne and some baby turtles. It’s time to tackle The Last Song!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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