Thursday, February 14, 2013

Safe Haven Movie Review

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough (r) star in Safe Haven

From our friends at DC Film Review...

Finding Safe Haven... Even From a Mile Way

I learned early on, not to judge a book by its cover. At first glance, Lasse Hallström’s Safe Haven appears little more than an obvious choice for a Valentine’s Day date night (you weren’t going to take your sweetie to A Good Day to Die Hard, were you?) Having invested nearly two-hours with two of Hollywood’s most beautiful people (Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough) and the equally attractive, small town charm of Southport, North Carolina, I’m here to report that all seems well with the romantic comedy (at least for this week.) You can see where this one’s going (save an interesting twist at the end) from a mile away; but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the ride.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: An affirming and suspenseful story about a young woman's struggle to love again, Safe Haven is based on the novel from Nicholas Sparks, the best-selling author behind the hit films The Notebook and Dear John. When a mysterious young woman arrives in a small North Carolina town, her reluctance to join the tight knit community raises questions about her past. Slowly, she begins putting down roots, and gains the courage to start a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner with two young children. But dark secrets intrude on her new life with such terror that she is forced to rediscover the meaning of sacrifice and rely on the power of love in this deeply moving romantic thriller.

Director: Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.) Hallström also directed 2010’s Dear John, another adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

What’s Best: I have no idea who Nicholas Sparks is (evidently, he’s some dude who writes romantic novels) but the fairer sex tends to think the world of him; so who am I to argue? Safe Haven plays it safe for the most part, but Duhamel and Hough give their characters more than just a pretty face. Alex may be too good to be true (nice guy, even better dad, etc.) but Katie’s reluctance to immediately fall for the best looking guy in town makes it a bit more believable. Alex’s courtship is cute... without being cutesy; and the film benefits from a side story involving Katie’s past, that adds a bit of drama to all the fluff.

What’s Not: Hey, I liked it; but let’s not go crazy. Safe Haven hardly reinvents the romantic comedy. It’s sappy at times; and everything seems to work out for Katie once she hops off the bus (Need a job? No problem. A place to stay? I just happen to have this empty house available.) The ending is far-fetched (especially an envelope addressed to Her) but romantic comedies aren’t supposed to be realistic, are they?

Did You Know? Several movies, including Crimes of the Heart, Domestic Disturbance, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Nights in Rodanthe and Summer Catch have been shot in Southport, NC (population 2,351) in addition to TV’s popular Dawson's Creek.

Best Line: Alex’s son (coincidentally named Josh) asks ‘Are you cool with this?’ regarding Katie joining them for a day at the beach. Julianne Hough in a two-piece bikini? Hmm, I’m cool with it.

Overall: Valentine’s Day movie nights are all about setting the mood; and you could do a lot worse than channeling your inner Duhamel or Hough. It’s not free of clichés, but Safe Haven makes for a solid two hours of entertainment. Dinner and dessert is on you.

Grade: B-