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

Co-owner Jason Parzyk carries two growlers to fill as he serves up beer at Lake Stevens Brewing Co. The first brewery in the city is celebrating one-year anniversary this weekend. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Beer of the Week: Lake Stevens Brewing Co.’s Sour Imperial

The beer has a depth and a complex flavor profile that goes beyond just another barrel-aged stout.

Legendary bluesman Curtis Salgado to play Arlington show

The Northwest blues-soul-funk-R&B living legend performs with Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons Nov. 18.

This year’s Snohomish Blues Invasion has an all-star lineup

Proceeds send the CD Woodbury Trio and the Benton-Townsend Duo to the International Blues Challenge.

Schack holiday show features Northwest watercolor artists

The free exhibit also will have three-dimensional works, such as jewelry, glass, ceramic and wood.

‘Three Billboards’ rooted in Frances McDormand’s rigid role

The actress of “Fargo” fame gives an Oscar-worthy performance in this black comedy on human nature.

‘The Hate U Give’ shows the burden of being black in America

Angie Thomas’ story of a teen girl covers the challenging experience of African Americans.

A merry Christmas concert with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

The Christian music stars will perform at Xfinity Arena with Jordan Smith of “The Voice” on Nov. 18.

‘Veep’ production postponed during Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ treatment

The 56-year-old star has been documenting her breast cancer fight on social media.

The Rucker Hill house is featured in the Twin Peaks series in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Living happily ever after in the ‘Twin Peaks’ house

Everett homeowners snagged a role in the recent reboot of the 1990s cult classic show.

Most Read