By Marina Liao
The latest Nicholas Sparks’ book-turned-movie, “Safe Haven,” may have a 71 percent likable rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but in my book, the movie fails in comparison to hits such as “The Notebook,” “Dear John” and even “The Last Song” starring Disney sensation, Miley Cyrus.
“Safe Haven” came out on Valentine’s Day, perfect for those who were seeking a romance movie or a glimpse of the shirtless Josh Duhamel.
Duhamel’s character, Alex, is a widower with two young children living in a small North Carolina town. He meets the mysterious and shy Katie, played by Julianne Hughes. For those who read the novel, the real reason why Katie leaves Boston and goes to North Carolina has already been revealed. But for those who are tuning into “Safe Haven” for the first time, the semi-thriller beginning is an attention grabber, but also leaves you confused.
Twenty minutes into the movie, the scenes become awkward and choppy. The dialogue between Alex and Katie appears to have no direction. It’s cringe worthy — just what you would expect from a bad romantic comedy. The only relief comes from 8-year-old Mimi Kirkland, whose sweet and charismatic character, Lexie, made several people in the audience go “aw.”
The movie jumps back and forth between the picturesque beachfront town and the Boston police department, where a cop is desperately—and creepily—tracking Katie. These scenes embody a completely different feeling, like one from a drama or thriller.
The canoe rowing scene between Alex and Katie would have been romantic had we not seen the same setting in The Notebook.
We are also introduced to Katie’s neighbor, Jo, whose importance and role in the movie is not explained until the very end. Jo, played by actress Cobie Smulders, better known as Robin from the series “How I Met Your Mother,” doesn’t receive much character development. Jo pops up in some scenes, then just disappears. Her interactions with Katie are also short and filled with small talk that do no justice to either character.
As the movie progresses to the finale, which includes a fire, a gunshot and the unveiling of Jo and the cop’s true idedntity, viewers are finally able to piece together the entire story.
The ending, however, was anti-climactic because both Duhamel and Hughes’ acting was dry and lacked the passion necessary to bring the scene alive.
Overall, “Safe Haven” fell short in terms of the movie’s flow and banal dialogue. There was no real character development for Alex, Katie or Jo in any of the scenes and the cast lacked the ability to bring real emotions to the surface.
“Safe Haven” is last on my list of Nicholas Sparks’ movies.