My work friends and I have become regulars at Event Cinemas’ monthly ‘Chicks at the Flicks’ events, a blatant attempt to get more women along to the movies – and to ply them with alcohol and goodie bags so they pay more for tickets than they normally would. And dammit if it doesn’t work! I have yet to go to one that hasn’t been pretty much packed out, and if you want to go for the Gold Class option (lazy boy chair, food and beverage service to your chair, only 40 seats per cinema, ‘free’ bottle of wine at the end) then you have to book early. It is a great night out though, and they generally opt for ‘chick’ type movies. And Safe Haven, which we saw at last week’s event, is, without question, a chick type movie.
The story, based on a Nicholas Sparks novel (he must be rolling in the movie adaptation money – thanks to this, The Lucky One, Dear John and of course The Notebook), is a pretty simple one. Girl (Julianne Hough from Footloose) meets Guy (Josh Duhamel from Transformers) and they fall in love. Of course, as all good romance writers know, there must be conflict and drama. Hence Girl is on the run from evil ex-husband (who is a corrupt policeman) and Guy is recovering from the death of his wife, and trying to raise his two young kids. In all Nicholas Sparks novels too you need a good Southern location, and the scenery here (and no, I am not just talking about Josh), is lovely. It is set in a place called Southport in one of the Carolinas. Not sure if it exists, but as far as cute small towns go, it is pretty picturesque.
There is nothing amazing about this film, but for fans of the rom com genre (of which I am one), it ticks most of the boxes. But it doesn’t do much more than that. It is overly saccharine at times, and there is a twist right at the end which is SIMPLY RIDICULOUS. Up until that point, I probably would have given it a 3.5 – as it was better than expected. But the unnecessary and simply proposterous twist costs it half an M&M (as to how you halve an M&M – trust me, it ain’t easy…). But, that aside, this is an entirely watchable film. The two leads do a great job and seemed to have great chemistry. The supporting players also did well – hilariously named Cobie Smulders (The Avengers, How I Met Your Mother) did a good down to earth job as a local girl, and the two kids playing Duhamel’s offspring were suitably cute and endearing. And the revealing of the Girl’s backstory was well scattered throughout the film, giving things an air of mystery.
So, my recommendation would be – if you like lots of cheese and sugar in your movie diet, then this is your bag. If you are a low-carb, high action type, avoid at all costs. 3 M&Ms from me.
PS. I have just got in from seeing Zero Dark Thirty for the second time (with my sister – it was her first movie outing in three months (since having a baby) and she was SO EXCITED IT WAS UNBEARABLE ;-)). It was JUST as good on a second watch and both the people I saw it with said I hadn’t hyped it up too much – despite the fact that I have hyped it up quite a bit! So if there is one movie you see this month/year/decade, make it this one. You won’t regret it.