Safe Haven

What is life without the periodic release of a Nicholas Sparks movie? The foundations of the world would crumble, and chaos and terror would reign supreme. Volcanoes will explode, tsunamis will wipe out what little land we have left, and the earthquakes would finish off the last defiant mortals. Help us, Nicholas Sparks, you’re our only hope.

If you’ve actively avoided previous works by this author, here’s a crash course (possible, minor spoilers ahead):

Nicholas Sparks Movie ChartExcept, this is the new movie – Safe Haven. To follow the formula, we start with:

  • Two white people – Alex (Josh Duhamel) and Katie/Erin (Julianne Hough)
  • Impossible obstacle – Dead wife (Alex) and shady past (Katie/Erin)
  • Love each other anyway! – [Insert montage of kissing in the rain and drawing flowers in the sand]
  • Tragedy (for good measure) – Mysterious past made clear and quickly catches up to Katie/Erin in the form of stereotypical alcoholic cop husband
  • Sent it to the poster designer!

As you can see… Not the most original of plots, or circumstances. From a highbrow point of view, the movie was slow, unbelievable in the romance department, and yet somehow it took up a solid two hours. Generalized rating: 5/10, or 3/5.

But, this is a Nicholas Sparks movie. Who really goes to watch one for the fantastic plot or the applicable life themes? If we searched for inspiration in these movies, nothing would get done in this society: we’d all be standing around making out against a tree, boating slowly across sunset-lit waters, or frozen by the memories of our pasts. NO! We watch them for the feel good fuzzies, the two hours of believing in unrealistic love, and then we move back to reality. Now that we’re judging from that standpoint… I give it a 7-8/10, or 4/5.

I did like the story, but I’ll be honest: I spent at least 60% of the movie wondering if I could get my hair to look like Hough’s, 15% wondering why they aren’t more sweaty in their supposedly humid location, 10% guessing the plot to see if I’m right later on, and the remaining 15% actually shutting up and watching the movie.

Here are some of the issues I had with the movie (the one’s I couldn’t just chalk up to it being a Sparks movie):

  • There wasn’t a whole lot of chemistry going on between Alex and Katie: they clearly were into each other (refer to aforementioned passionate kissing), but I didn’t feel it.
  • When it was revealed that “Katie” was actually “Erin,” I nearly shouted at Alex, “How did you not see that coming??”
  • Alex’s son, Josh (does anyone else find it humorous that Josh Duhamel is father to ‘Josh’ in the movie?) is moody all the time, which is understandable since he lost his mom to cancer, but his angst adds nothing to the story. It’s just a snippet thrown in there so that Alex can confide in Katie and further the spiraling romance.
  • Last, but not least, in one of the confrontations between Katie and her ex-husband (I think his name was Kevin? That’s how minute and pointless his character was), Kevin calls her Katie, not Erin. Does that make sense at all to anyone? How does he know that she goes by Katie now? I wasn’t the only one who caught this – the ladies behind me in the theatre commented as well.

All right, I’m done snarking now. Here’s what made me give it a higher number than it probably deserves, both small moments delivered by minor characters:

  • When the son finally breaks down and admits that he misses his mom. I will admit – it tugged the heartstrings.
  • The final shocker – a dead woman’s letter to her husband’s future lover, and the further revelation about one of the characters. It elicited one of these from me:Kaylee Gasp

In the end, it was a romance movie, plain and simple. There’s a certain lenience you have to give those suckers. It was a bit transparent, so if you’re not into that, I would suggest that you save your cash. Otherwise, it might be worth it to see it in the theatres, or at least a discount theatre.

PS: If you’re looking for a good date movie, I would recommend this, as long as you actually pay attention to the screen. There’s a lot that isn’t included in dialogue, and relies on screen images to convey plot progression. I’m looking at you, top row moviegoers.

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