One more romance novel by Nicholas Sparks turns into one more highly predictable screen product. Screenwriter Will Fetters omits the 2008 book’s opening scene of skinny-dipping coeds, a peeper and slashed tires. Instead, “The Lucky One” begins, and will end, with an aerial shot of a cute fishing boat and a voiceover about life, love, choice, chance or something. That’s Logan (Zac Efron) talking. After completing three tours of duty, this ex-marine walks from Colorado to Louisiana with his German Shepherd named Zeus to find the woman in a photograph he found on the ground in Iraq. He thought it saved him and he wants to tell her that. Upon meeting the becoming Beth (Taylor Schilling), he fumbles for the tattered snapshot. She notices a scrap he tore from the local newspaper and figures he is applying for the job she advertised. He lies, says yes, and stays. He fixes up a shack and makes himself real useful. Her mother likes him, her seven-year-old son likes him, and all the dogs like him a lot. They lick the mug of this fit easy-on-the-eye PTSD-afflicted vet in the same eager-to-please way that director Scott Hicks (“Shine,” “Snow Falling On Cedars”) slathers “golden hour” cinematography and charmed scenery on this seventh Sparks adaptation. Beth’s belated discovery of why Logan showed up will test her trust of the handsome stranger who reads Melville and Nietzsche. He will find out who lost her photo in Iraq. For a touch of melodrama there’s a mean deputy sheriff redeemed by a stormy night rescue of a child from a river’s torrent. “The Lucky One” calculates its surface effects for its fan base, but it’s the first Sparks film that did not make me cry. Maybe if he had drowned the dog. With Jay R. Ferguson, Riley Thomas Stewart, Adam LeFevre, Blythe Danner. 101m. (Bill Stamets)
“The Lucky One” opens Friday.