If there is ever a movie to embody every aspect of a guilty pleasure, “Safe Haven” is it. From cheesy romance to violence and suspense, there are numerous clich?es in this movie that are guaranteed to appeal to all audiences.
“Safe Haven” is the eighth Nicholas Sparks book to be adapted into a movie, following “Message in a Bottle,” “A Walk to Remember,” “The Notebook,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “Dear John,” “The Last Song” and “The Lucky One.” It features many of the same scenes as previous Sparks movies, from frolicking in the rain to emotional revelations and declarations of love. What separates “Save Haven” is its addition of a suspenseful backstory that provides a couple of drastic twists and turns the movie into a cross between a romance and thriller.
“Safe Haven” is a story about Katie (Julianne Hough) and Alex (Josh Duhamel), both of whom are trying to escape their difficult pasts. Katie is running from an abusive situation while Alex is trying to raise his two children alone after the passing of his wife. After fleeing to Stockport, North Carolina, Katie meets Alex and begins to become something of a mother figure to his children. Alex is immediately intrigued by Katie, but continues to be haunted by his past.
The roles of Katie and Alex are new types of roles for both Hough and Duhamel. Hough, who got her start on “Dancing with the Stars,” is known as the dancer who has dabbled in the country music world. She takes this dramatic role in stride and develops her character fairly well, especially for the general cheesiness of the movie.
“It was a little intimidating but I love a challenge. I love feeling like I have something to prove. I’ve always been known as this dancer chick, and this was kind of hard … this is a Nicholas Sparks movie … and I’m the girl from ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ so I really had to fight for this role,” Hough said on-air to the ladies of “The View.”
Duhamel, on the other hand, whom audiences are more used to seeing in action movies like “Transformers,” falls flat. There is nothing particularly wrong with his performance, but he doesn’t shine in nearly the way that other actors have in previous Nicholas Sparks movies. Duhamel appears to be more comfortable with roles in action films, although he has expressed interest in trying out new kinds of roles.
“I’ve always wanted to do one of these movies. The Nicholas Sparks movies are actually something that I’ve been a big fan of. But if I was going to do one, and if I had an opportunity to do one, I wanted it to be a little bit different, because that’s a lot to live up to. This is a movie that I think is going to surprise people in that … it’s romantic but it’s more of a thriller, suspenseful, sort of movie … a little bit scarier … than the other ones. So that’s what I think initially drew me to it,” Duhamel said on “Entertainment Tonight.”
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy Nicholas Sparks adaptations, it is definitely notable that this is the eighth film following an extremely similar mold, yet it still draws crowds and has gained immense popularity. The reason these same plot lines and motifs are repeated is because they work. They are successful and clearly still enjoyed. If you are looking to be intellectually stimulated, this is probably not the film for you. If you want pure guilty pleasure entertainment, however, “Safe Haven” will not let you down.