(On Cable TV, December 2018) Here are the facts: The Lucky One is a romantic drama based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. I should just stop the review right here, because you already have all of what’s required to make up your mind about the movie and whether you’re likely to enjoy it. Most Sparks novels are built according to a similar melodramatic template, and this similarity is not helped at all by bland casting and unremarkable direction. The story has to do with a soldier making his way back from Iraq to a woman whose picture he found during combat, but really that’s just an extra-melodramatic setup for a “stranger comes into town” plot à la Safe Haven. It ends pretty much how you’d expect, which is tautologically the only way it could end up given the expectations of its audience. If it sounds as if I’m exasperated by the result, that’s true only up to a certain point. Past that, the film delivers exactly what it intends, and there is some atmospheric attractiveness in small-town romance stories with added dramatic flair. (Plus Zac Efron and/or Taylor Schilling. Although I’m getting old enough now that Blythe Danner is starting to look like the cute one in the film.) The Lucky One is the kind of movie that it wants to be, and you’d don’t have to see it if you don’t want to.