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February 16, 2013 | 12:42 p.m. CST
OK Hollywood, we get it now; the joke is on us. Audiences overlooked the latest terrible Nicholas Sparks novels-turned-chick-flicks Dear John and The Lucky One because they remembered falling in love with a young demure Mandy Moore in A Walk to Remember and a shirtless Ryan Gosling in The Notebook. But after Safe Haven, let’s just say fans of Sparks may altogether cease to exist.
The film begins with an overly dramatic sequence where Katie (Julianne Hough) flees from an abusive relationship, boards an overnight bus and decides to settle in the small North Carolina town of Southport. Here, she meets the local hunk and widower, Alex (Josh Duhamel), and the Nicholas Sparks formula for falling in love begins to emerge.Related Movie
There are the usual walks on the beach, hand-written letters and scenes of longing that take place in a canoe and then an abandoned convenience store. Alex and Katie’s courtship is slow and sweet but also decidedly cheesy and enough to induce a fair amount of eye-rolling.
Aside from the astonishing lack of chemistry between Duhamel and Hough, Safe Haven is also plain boring. Even with intercut scenes of a grisly, drunken cop determined to find Katie, the plot suffers from a lack of feeling, depth and just about everything else to make the movie watchable.
There’s also the absurd plot twist at the end, which just goes to show how far Hollywood and Nicholas Sparks have sunken in both taste and execution. Audiences will leave either blissfully unaware of what they’ve just endured or wishing they had just rented a movie instead.
Either way, Sparks should expect to receive a fair amount of break-up letters from long-time fans. But remember Sparks, it’s not us — it’s definitely you.