Vicki Briganti – CW50 Writer / Producer / Editor
I think it would be predictable work on the set of a Nicholas Sparks movie. The producers must hold their clipboards and scan the checklist to make sure he hasn’t forgotten: boats, canoes, flannel shirts, small town location, cabin in the woods, sexy couple caught in the rain.
His last two stinkers – “Dear John” and “The Lucky One” – had me wondering if I should bother with his newest film, “Safe Haven.” The pure beauty of Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough is a bonus, the storyline far more compelling. It doesn’t reach the emotional magnitude of “The Notebook,” but the characters/actors keep you invested and caring about their journey.
This love story contains more haunted drama than previous screenplays. We first see Katie (Julianne Hough “Footloose”) as she rushes to flee Boston and jump on a bus. Was she involved in bad behavior? We find out in flashbacks as the action moves along.
She winds up in Southport, a small, sleepy town along the coast of southern North Carolina. Here, she tries to escape her past and create a peaceful life. She gets a job as a waitress at Ivan’s Fish Shack. She rents a dilapidated house in the woods and befriends her stalker neighbor, Jo (Cobie Smulders “How I Met Your Mother”). Katie’s not looking for love when she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel “Transformers”). Alex is a widowed storeowner raising two kids, Josh and Lexie.
Katie and Alex can’t help falling in love just in time for Valentine’s weekend at the box office. Will her dark, big city secret ruin an otherwise blossoming relationship?
I Am Home
If you’re a Nicholas Sparks fan, there’s a lot to enjoy about this movie. You fall in love with falling in love. Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel are easy on the eyes and ooze chemistry. Both turn in solid performances. I’m not familiar with actor David Lyons, the Boston detective, but his intensity and menace make fight scenes seem real.
The star of the show is newcomer Mimi Kirkland, the little girl who plays Lexie. Where has she been hiding? She’s an adorable scene-stealer. Alex as a single dad adds layers of complexity to the script as Katie seeks to define her role in a new family unit.
With all the winter snow, cold, and wind, I wanted to walk with Alex under the Spanish moss trees, splash in the ocean wearing a bikini, and ride my bike with a basket like Katie’s over to the dock and sit outside watching fireworks. What a pleasant way to escape at the movies for a few hours. If you can’t be ‘em, join ‘em.
“Safe Haven” opens in theatres February 14th. The website is safehavenfilm.com.
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