Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Safe Haven | Julianne Hough, David Lyons, Josh Duhamel | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn


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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE


Safe Haven

Aimed at being the perfect date movie, the romantic drama Safe Haven opened in theaters just in time for Valentine's Day.

Safe Haven is the latest novel by best selling author Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, Dear John) that has been adapted to the big screen. For anyone who has read his books or seen any of the films you know what's in store. Expect the usual schmaltz and sappy sentimentality but with added elements of mystery, suspense, and something extra, thrown in.

Directed by Swedish born Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, Dear John) from a script by Dana Stevens and Gage Lansky, the film stars former Dancing With The Stars pro Julianne Hough who gets a chance to show that she is more than just a pretty face and accomplished dancer. Stretching her acting cops she does a convincing job as a woman running from her past desperate to make a new life for herself.

After cutting her hair, dying it blonde, and fleeing from her home, Katie (Hough) takes a bus out of Boston, eventually arriving in the charming, easy going, coastal community of Southport, North Carolina. In no short order, she rents an isolated cabin in the woods, is befriended by a pretty neighbor named Jo (Cobie Smulders, from TV's How I Met Your Mother), lands a job as a waitress at Ivan's Fish Shack and during a visit to the local general store, attracts the admiring eye of its handsome owner, Alex (Josh Duhamel) a widower whose beloved wife died from cancer a few years back.  

It hasn't been easy for the single father left alone to raise his now pre teen, pouty son (Noah Lomax) and  sweet and utterly huggable eight year-old daughter Lexi (Mimi Kirkland). At first, Katie tries to distance herself from Alex, but it doesn't take too long before she succumbs to his kind ways and a growing love between the two, each with issues of their own, starts to bloom.

Romance may be in the air, but so is trouble in the form of Kevin Tierney (David Lyons) a deranged detective obsessed with tracking Katie down. It isn't as if we can't figure out what happens next.

Hough and Duhamel make a likable, beautiful couple and the idyllic, lush setting is eye catching. What bothers me are the contrivances and emotional manipulations meant to pull at your heart.  

I was totally expecting to add the predictability factor, because the plot, which is reminiscent of Sleeping With The Enemy starring Julia Roberts, was keeping with the usual formula, or so I thought. And that is true, up to a point.

Tear jerker or not, the surprise twist at the end really knocked me for a loop.  I probably should have seen it coming, because of a clue or two.  Call me a sucker, but for this reviewer, that is Safe Haven's saving grace.