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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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The Lucky One: Follow the photo
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Love triumphs.
Love triumphs.

Depending on your taste in romantic fare, you'll find The Lucky One, adapted from Nicholas Sparks' novel, toe-curlingly dreamy or ploddingly predictable. I fall into the latter camp. The film is shopworn.

That, of course, will make it reassuring to some people. Love triumphs in the end, despite its circuitous route from the bullet-pocked villages of Iraq to a peaceful Louisiana parish, home of Blythe Danner's wise nana and her heartbroken granddaughter Beth (Taylor Schilling). A year back, Beth lost her brother in the war, and her alcoholic ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson) keeps threatening to take her to court over custody of their 8-year-old son (Riley Thomas Stewart).

Enter Marine Sgt. Logan Thibault (Zac Efron), who found a dog-eared photograph of Beth amid the carnage of Iraq and has been searching for the gorgeous girl for the past year. Walking from Colorado to Spanish-moss-draped Louisiana, Thibault ends up at Beth's rural manse/dog-boarding business. You can guess the rest.

Efron is fine in the role of the mysterious stranger, the type of role Paul Newman might have played circa 1964, with a lot more quiet fire. The cast is uniformly fine, in fact. The movie's a wash, though, devoid of the true frissons that tend to accompany real-life romance.

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