From "The Last Song" to "A Walk to Remember," fans of romance movies flock to see the latest adaptations of Sparks' books. He seems to have the formula nailed down: woman and man pine for each other, something gets in the way, then a miracle happens and they're brought together. Add a supernatural/ghost element and there you have it.
Julianne Hough stars as a woman suffering in an abusive relationship, and she decides to take off in the middle of the night after getting in a fight with her partner. She cuts her hair, dons a wig, and boards a bus to a sleepy seaside town -- a "Safe Haven," if you will. There she meets Josh Duhamel's character, who runs a general store and is father to two small children. His wife, recently passed away from cancer, still weighs heavily on their minds.
So what forces bring these two together? And is it worth seeing to find out? Read on to find out.
PRO: It Hits All The Romantic Movie Marks If you're a fan of Sparks movies, then you'll probably love "Safe Haven." Nothing cerebral going on here, but if you're looking for two people falling in love and doing cute things for one another, then sign yourself up for this one. (In case you're wondering, yes, there are scenes of the two lovebirds running in the rain and lying on the beach together.)
CON: Real-Life Relationships Muddy The Waters Everyone knows that Josh Duhamel is in a relationship with Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie and Julianne Hough is in a relationship with celebrity personality Ryan Seacrest. These high-profile real-life relationships definitely make it harder to swallow the big-screen romance on display in front of us. While Duhamel and Hough do their best to capture the chemistry of fated lovers, it falls a bit short of the mark.
PRO: It's Beautiful To Look At Shot entirely in beautiful North Carolina, the beach and forest scenery is pretty to behold. Although, at times, it felt like I was watching "Dawson's Creek" (which shot in Wilmington, N.C.), on the whole "Safe Haven" should help out with N.C. tourism. I had the urge to organize a barbecue on the beach after seeing this.
PRO: Cute Kids (And Cobie Smulders!) OK, so even my cold heart can concede that the kids in this movie are adorable. Their acting is also convincing, and it's a joy to watch them on-screen. Hough and Duhamel interact with them well, too. Speaking of cute, Cobie Smulders ("The Avengers") has a small role as well, and she lights up the screen whenever she appears. Honestly, she should be cast in bigger, better vehicles than this.
CON: Heavy On The Schmaltz Some parts of this movie are so cheesy and so schmaltzy, I thought my eyes were going to roll straight out of my head. Rife with cliches, the courtship is like an ABCs of dating, from the gift of a refurbished bicycle to the day at the beach, where the couple (and the children) make funny faces for the camera and build a sandcastle. But hey, if that's your thing...
"Safe Haven" opens in theaters on February 14.