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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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The Lucky One

Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling PG-13 |


Banish your shame: Sexually objectifying Efron is the entire point of The Lucky One. The kid from High School Musical is all grown up (he’s 24), so go ahead and ogle. That’s professional advice, because the film has lovely views but not much else.

In this Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Efron plays Logan, a Marine who is saved when he picks up a photo in the debris after an Iraqi firefight, seconds before a mortar explodes where he had just been sitting. Deciding that the pictured woman is his lucky charm, he sets out to find her. She’s Beth (Schilling), a Louisiana mom who hires Logan to help with her dog kennel business.

Most of what transpires next is thin soup, with Logan befriending Beth’s mildly saucy grandma Ellie (Blythe Danner) and crossing her cartoonishly evil ex Keith (Jay R. Ferguson). Of course he literally charms the pants off Beth, and the two do a fine job of steaming up the screen (even if she looks a decade older than him). If there’s a quibble-well, apart from the wan plot and paper-thin characters-it’s that there’s not enough adult action. As cinematic sexual awakenings go, PG-13 is far too tame.

Think Like a Man

Gabrielle Union, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall, Jerry Ferrara, Michael Ealy | PG-13 |


There’s a funny, snappy film in Think Like a Man, but you have to sit through an hour of product placement to get there. The product is comedian Steve Harvey’s 2009 bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, an advice tome that would be sexist except for the fact that it treats men like simple mutts in need of training. The film shows what happens when frustrated girlfriend Kristen (Union), single mom Candace (Hall), executive Lauren (Henson) and bad dater Mya (Good) use the book’s tactics on a group of basketball buddies, with Harvey himself popping up to guide the audience through the book, chapter by chapter. Once Man finally gets down to telling its tales of dating purgatory, it’s clear that the cast is enormously likeable, the scenarios are relatable and the plots have solid emotional payoffs. The film feels too long, but that’s only because we can’t fast-forward through the commercials.