Film review | The Lucky One – Former teen idol Zac Efron is all grown up but keeps the boyish charm

The Lucky One - TAYLOR SCHILLING as Beth and ZAC EFRON as Logan

Now sporting bristly stubble and a buff body, Zac Efron has come a long way from his carefree High School Musical days, but even though he’s playing a troubled Iraq war veteran in this glossy romance based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, he hasn’t entirely lost the boyish charm that made him a teen idol.

Here, he’s the lucky one of the title, a US Marine called Logan who credits his combat survival to his discovery in the midst of a firefight of a photo depicting an unknown woman. If he hadn’t stopped to pick up her pic, he’d have been a goner. Back on home soil, he walks halfway across the country to find her and discovers she is single mom Beth (Taylor Schilling), a soulful blonde with a cute moppet of a son and a jealous ex, the town’s blustering deputy sheriff. Without revealing why he’s turned up on her doorstep, Logan lands a job at the kennel she runs with wise grandmother Blythe Danner. Of course, the pair slowly fall in love, as anyone who’s seen any of the weepies based on books by Sparks (including The Notebook and Dear John) will predict. It’s all very contrived and sentimental, and could easily be unbearably slushy, but director Scott Hicks (maker of Shine) keeps the schmaltz in check, and Efron and Schilling have an appealing chemistry that keeps you rooting for them to be together.

On general release from Wednesday 2nd May.

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