Do you ever wonder about the big questions? God, destiny, the greater meaning of life as a whole or if there is one at all? Clearly Nicholas Sparks does. Whether that makes a good story or not is an entirely different question.
Sergeant Logan Thibault (played by Zac Efron) is on his third tour in Iraq when he and his fellow soldiers engage in a firefight. Logan (Efron) is spared but not everyone is so fortunate. Then, following the firefight, he sees something on the ground and, as he bends down to pick it up, there’s an explosion which takes the lives of even more of his compatriots. Still, thanks to the picture, he lived. While travelling in an armored vehicle discussing this, another soldier dies and, again, Logan doesn’t. He attributes this to the picture and, more specifically, the woman in it. So, after it becomes clear to Logan and his family that he brought home a good deal more than a photo, he decides it’d be better if he left and sets out, on foot, to find the woman who he considers his guardian angel. With nothing more than the photo and whatever was written on the back, he finds this woman more than one thousand miles away in New Orleans. Her name is Beth Clayton. Beth (played by Taylor Schilling) is divorced, a mother, on sabbatical from her career as an elementary school teacher and running a kennel with her mother Ellie (played by Blythe Danner) who’s recently suffered a stroke. Coincidentally, Logan left a dog with his family before going to war and came to Louisiana with said dog in tow. Also coincidentally, Beth (Schilling) is looking for help and offers the job to Logan immediately once she hears he’s a former Marine. She regrets that once she hears how he made his way to Louisiana but her mother (Danner) tells him he has the job and after that there was nothing to be done.
Of the seventeen novels written by Nicholas Sparks, this is the seventh to be adapted for the screen, the sixth I’ve seen, and the only one I’ve seen in the theater. The worst was, without a doubt, 2010’s The Last Song starring Miley Cyrus and Greg Kinnear. The best was The Notebook. As for its predecessors, Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember, I’d rank them somewhere in between. Many have commented that Schilling is too old to be playing opposite the former star of the High School Musical series, but as Efron is a mere three years younger than his co-star, I’d say it’s the least significant problem in a drama with many, many others. Others include the Homeric trek undertaken by the main character and the inexplicable manner by which he accomplishes what he set out to. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your money. Don’t see this movie.