New Nicholas Sparks movie not bad, until Sparks ruins it

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Wednesday, February 13, 2013 3:11pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

The sinister plot turns from the mind of Nicholas Sparks get better treatment than they deserve in “Safe Haven,” a cleanly turned adaptation of one of the tireless author’s bestselling novels.

You know who Nicholas Sparks is, and don’t pretend you don’t. Movie adaptations of the books have been impossible to avoid, from “The Notebook” to “Nights in Rodanthe” to last year’s sleepwalking “Lucky One.”

“Safe Haven” cooks up a heapin’ helpin’ of Sparks-flavored stew, this time mostly set in a small town on the North Carolina coast. Our heroine, who calls herself Katie (Julianne Hough), has chosen this spot at random after leaving Boston under scary circumstances.

We know that a Boston cop (David Lyons) is searching for her, and that blood is on the ground. So a mystery is looming while Katie settles into a new place, meets cute widower-dad Alex (Josh Duhamel), and fixes up her cabin in the woods.

If you were escaping from dire circumstances, you might pick something other than an isolated cabin in a small town, but never mind. The film’s going to kill time until a climax will come, as we know it must, and the Boston past will arrive in North Carolina.

The unexpected thing is that some of this time-killing in the middle of the movie is actually pleasant. Director Lasse Hallstrom, who has a bunch of classy and Oscar-nominated movies in his career, does a professional job of steering the melodrama, and he conjures up the beachy feel of the seaside locale.

I admit to my embarrassing soft spot for Julianne Hough based on the “Footloose” remake, but sadly, the vibe ain’t happening here. The saucier side of her personality from “Footloose” and “Rock of Ages” is nowhere to be seen in this movie’s heavy temper, and she looks like she’s wandering through the action with something else on her mind.

The easy mood of the film’s middle gives way to an increasingly preposterous series of plot turns, and Sparks has a real lulu saved up for the postscript. “Safe Haven” is a mild enough entry in the Sparks roster, and it’ll probably do just well enough to keep encouraging all this.

“Safe Haven” HH

Another one adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel: a woman with secrets (Julianne Hough) escapes to a North Carolina seaside town, where she dallies with an adorable widower-dad (Josh Duhamel) while we wait for the past to catch up in a violent way. Director Lasse Hallstrom conjures an agreeable beachy mood, at least until the plot turns get too deep.

Rating: PG-13, for violence

Showing: Alderwood Seven, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Sundance, Thornton Place, Safe Haven, Blue Fox, Cascade.

More in Life

Kamiak student Aidan Norris (center) drags Matthew Ninh into a scene as Mitchell Beard (left) reads his lines. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Joy, disappointment at Kamiak High’s ‘Spamalot’ auditions

More than 80 students try out for 45 roles in the outrageous Monty Python musical comedy.

What’s new for 2018 for travelers in Scandinavia

Sweden, Norway and Finland have embarked on many urban, cultural and transit projects.

Kia Rio subcompact takes a classy step up in 2018

A new design, roomier cabin, and better fuel economy are among the improvements on the 2018 Kia Rio.

Bald eagle no longer listed as ‘sensitive species’ in the state

A recent study found that eagle numbers are strong throughout Washington.

Living the suite life: A story of luck, love and legends

Jennifer Bardsley got a much better deal than she bargained for when booking a hotel room.

Indoor gardens: Four easy-to-grow house plants for beginners

If you want to get in on the house-plant trend but you don’t know where to begin, read this column.

It’s better to give your children rewards than punishments

Paul Schoenfeld explains how positive reinforcement is far more effective than negative with kids.

Arlington eagle fest wants your nature-themed artwork, haiku

Local residents of an artistic bent are invited to submit… Continue reading

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Most Read