Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re thinking of taking in a movie, there’s a very good chance your chick will put the kibosh on the new Die Hard. But to be fair, after Live Free or Die Hard, are you really optimistic for John McClain’s Russian adventures?
You know a Valentine’s movie date means romance, so you’re probably going to see Safe Haven this week. Can you survive it?
There’s reason to worry. All you need to see is a trailer and read the names of the stars to know that the acting is just slightly better than what you would find in a soft core porno. Plus, you have to consider that this isn’t just a script written by some pie eyed dreamer in LA. Safe Haven is based on a Nicholas Sparks book, and Sparks has built an empire writing estrogen filled schmaltz sure to neuter even the most brass-balled men.
This movie has all of the old Nicholas Sparks standbys too: a flawed heroine, the country boy that loves her anyway, townsfolk that are maybe a little too trusting, and what movie set in the South would be complete without an old man with some sort of medical condition that can predict the weather?
So the question remains. How worried should you be about having to see this movie?
Look, I would be lying if I came right out and called Safe Haven a good movie. It’s filled with bad acting – I mean FILLED with it. From start to finish actually. Come to think of it, there isn’t a performance in the movie you could even call a diamond in the rough. The movie also asks you to forgive (or maybe even just forget) a lot of plot holes and factual errors, like a drive down the Eastern Seaboard that somehow goes through the Blue Ridge Mountains and kids that grow up at the beach but can’t swim.
All that being said, here’s where I thought Sparks did a great job with the script: see, there’s a man hunt on for Julianne Hough’s character Katie. She’s wanted for murder back in Boston. David Lyons plays the cop working the case and it appears he taints the investigation like 300 times in the course of about 45 minutes. Then, there’s a plot twist and suddenly that storyline comes together very nicely. I have to admit, the first twist caught me off guard.
There’s a second plot twist at the end of the film. That one isn’t so surprising and slips Safe Haven right back into Lifetime Original Movie territory.
I’m not going to tell you I liked Safe Haven. What I will say is I didn’t hate Safe Haven. Surely there are better ways to spend the alleged “most romantic day of the year” than sitting silently watching Josh Duhamel show no emotion when talking about his children or their dead mother. If that’s bound to be your fate though, go in knowing that it’s not the worst movie out there this Valentine’s Day and that the night is guaranteed to end in sex as long as you don’t screw up.
Demetri Ravanos has a BA in film from the University of Alabama, is the host of ’60 seconds of film,’ and is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association.