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Safe Haven is the latest film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.  Along with Safe Haven, there have been seven other of Sparks’ novels adapted to film, including Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Last Song, and The Lucky One.  There is a definite theme when it comes to his work, sappy romance.  This film stars Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough of Dancing with the Stars fame and is directed by academy award nominated Lasse Hallström.  I have a personal interest in Hallström as he directed one of my all time favorite movies in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

Katie (Hough), a mysterious young out-of-towner, arrives to a small town by bus and is persistent to keep everyone at arms length.  She meets Alex (Duhamel), who owns the local convenient store and has some initial chemistry but is persistent to not let him get close.  Alex’s wife passed away years ago and he’s left to take care of his two children on his own.  As time passes, Katie begins to let her guard down and in turn let Alex get close to her.  As this happens, some of her past secrets begin to come to light which will affect everything she’s worked so hard to build.  Katie must now choose if she should walk away for the safety of everyone involved, or will love trump all.

Safe Haven is exactly what I thought it was going to be, a love story between two beautiful people in a beautiful place where everything is not quite as it seems.  This is your typical cookie-cutter romance that falls right in line with all of the other Nicholas Sparks adaptations.  If you like his other ones, you’re probably going to enjoy this one.  For me, I felt that most of it was way too obvious and a lot of the characters were overly exaggerated   The story takes over an hour to even get off the ground and by that time I pretty much had everything already figured out.  On a positive note, the scenery that was shot in Southport, North Carolina is absolutely gorgeous.  I really wanted to go on vacation once the movie let out.  Also, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for the release of this film being Valentine’s weekend.  Many boyfriends and husbands will be forced against their will to see this movie this weekend, which I guess is just a part of being in a relationship on Valentine’s Day.  For those of you that aren’t forced to go, I’d recommend seeing something else.

Safe Haven opens Friday, February 15.

Grade: C-


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