ROMANTIC DRAMA; 1hr 58min
STARRING: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel
Just beachy: Hough and Duhamel
Romance novelist Nicholas Sparks’s feely-feely dramas are the book-to-movie equivalent of comfort food: punters know what they’re in for — the course of true love not running smooth between two great-looking people — and they lap it up. In Safe Haven, those lookers are Katie and Alex (Hough and Duhamel) and the speed bump is Katie’s troubled past, which has her on the lam from the law. She touches down in idyllic Southport, North Carolina, and, this being Sparksworld, immediately finds (a) a waitressing job, (b) a button-cute woodsy cabin, and (c) handsome widower Alex and his two lovable young kids. Of course she does!
Since there’s no question where everyone will end up, the fun lies in getting there, and with Lasse Hallström (Chocolat ) in control, that journey is refreshingly syrup-lite. The discerning director could class up a cereal commercial, and he does a neat job here. On the one hand, nobody will be shaken to their core. On the other, Haven does exactly what it sets out to do. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.