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Safe Haven

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safe havenI was listening to the two women behind me talking before the movie screening started. One said, “Did you see who is in this? Fergie’s husband.”

For those over 45, that’s not Fergie of the royal family, but the Black Eyed Peas. The woman followed that with “Is this Nicholas Sparks 3rd or 4th movie?”

This is the 7th Sparks novel made into a movie. I think the only one I’ve liked is The Notebook (and that one, just barely).

Here’s the story. We see Julianne Hough jump on a bus to Atlanta. The cops are furiously chasing her, and we aren’t sure why. Soon after, we see her husband’s abusing her and she stabs him in self-defense. She decides to stay in a delightful little tourist spot in North Carolina. There’s a lovely body of water (isn’t there always in Sparks stories?), and the lovely guy selling coffee at the mom-and-pop shop – Josh Duhamel (who I don’t think has ever made a movie I liked). We like this character, ya know why? He has, perhaps the cutest daughter I’ve seen on film in years. He has a snotty son, but handles the kid well. Oh, and he’s a widower. How can the women not swoon at all this?

Hough quickly gets a job at the local diner, where cops like to come in and look around…and as she hides in the back, we hear they’re trying to find the culprit of…the one who parked in a handicap spot.

Whew! That was a close one!

She has a nosey (but gorgeous) neighbor, played by Cobie Smulders (The Avengers). She encourages her to open her heart to Duhamel, which she does.

At this point, I was surprised the movie was holding my interest. The acting was bad, sure…but it was well shot, there was nice scenery, and I always like when a romance is slow to develop. It seems more realistic. And those adorable kids.

Pet Peeve #19 happened early on. That’s when a movie character rents a house that would be super expensive, and we’re not sure how they can afford it (she’s a waitress). Pet Peeve #7 happens soon after. That’s when single women who are scared, are sleeping or lounging around a house without curtains.

Director Lasse Hallstrom probably made this a better film than it had any business being. This is the guy that gave us What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, Something to Talk About, The Hoax, Cider House Rules…but also Dear John. Well, this was his “Dear John” letter to the audience. He just doesn’t love us, or he’d make a movie worth your time and money.

I’m going to be careful not to “ruin” this movie, but early on we find something out about why a certain cop is obsessed with catching her. That really irked me, but I let it slide. I had no clue there’d be a lot more moments where I (and the audience), would let out an audible “Oh come on!”

This cop suffers from Pet Peeve #28, which was last seen by Denzel Washington’s character in Flight. That’s the alcoholic that will drive, while taking swigs from his bottle of booze. Apparently that’s what alcoholics do in the movie, to reinforce just how alcoholicky they are.

This guy also suffers later from Pet Peeve #29, which is when an character is completely hammered in a movie, yet can walk okay, handle stairs, quietly break-in to places, talk coherently, and even throw a pretty mean punch. I’ve seen enough episodes of Cops to know that you usually just fall down on your face when you move your arms or legs.

I remember when watching the last Nicholas Sparks movie, I cringed at all the songs. It was like watching bad VH1 videos at 3 a.m. They really have to do something about that. It verges on the type of corniness we make fun of in soap operas.

I did realize while watching this, that fireworks work really well when you have a bad guy chasing you. I remember how eerie Robert De Niro looked in Cape Fear, sitting on the fence while fireworks were blasting behind him. More movies should use that, instead of the clichés in this like: using a phone number that has 555 in it. Enough of that already.

Or…the line that somebody said earlier in the movie (usually by the man during the courting process), which is later in the movie used again (usually by the woman, and usually after lovemaking).

Pet Peeve #271 cropped up. That was one that I last saw in Side Effects (a movie I liked, despite the pet peeve). That’s where you can explain something to the person you love, but instead, you just let them walk away angry and not knowing the truth.

And why do these romantic comedies think they always need to have that old family member that knows exactly who you have your eye on romantically, and has to prod you along to make a move? Come on, this is Josh Duhamel. He’s not the nerd from that Super Bowl commercial. I think he knows how to get a lady and doesn’t need creepy uncle that looks like he should be in the Dukes of Hazard giving him romance advice.

It doesn’t really matter how much I pan this movie. The women that want to see it are going to see it. And it’s Valentine’s Day, so even the men that don’t want to see it, are going to go see it. I’d suggest the guy smartly tell his wife/girlfriend “I want to make you a fancy dinner. It’s going to be crowded out and I have to work early Friday. Let’s stay in and watch The Notebook.”

Or you can suggest Sleeping with the Enemy, which is a movie I didn’t care for but has a similar premise. Compared to this movie, Julia Roberts acting in that was Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.

I’m giving this 1 star out of 5. I talk more about it below:

Triple Preview Of “Beautiful Creatures,” “Safe Haven” And “A Good Day To Die Hard”

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