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'Safe Haven' a predictable copycat

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 12:42 a.m. MDT

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in Relativity Media's "Safe Haven." (James Bridges, Safe Haven Productions) Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in Relativity Media's "Safe Haven." (James Bridges, Safe Haven Productions)

"SAFE HAVEN"; directed by Lasse Hallstrom; based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks; starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough; running time 2 hours; in general release

The problem with “Safe Haven” is not in the acting. Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough actually do a pretty decent job and they have nice chemistry between them. The children in the film, particularly Mimi Kirkland, who plays Lexie, and Noah Lomax, who plays Josh, are great.

The problem is not with the gorgeous scenery along the lush North Carolina shoreline.

It’s with the story that starts with a promise of a better-than-average romance, but sadly dissolves into the same old thing.

You know going in that Katie and Alex are going to become involved. Alex has lost his wife to cancer and is raising two children alone. Katie has been hurt and is attempting to start life over in a sleepy little town where no one knows her.

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in Relativity Media's "Safe Haven." (James Bridges, Safe Haven Productions) Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in Relativity Media's "Safe Haven." (James Bridges, Safe Haven Productions)

Amazingly, they overcome their initial resistance to one another and fall in love. So you know from the warning music and the fact that there’s an obsessive policeman after Katie that there’s going to be trouble that will break them up for a while at some point.

You know the angry little boy is going to learn to like his replacement mother.

What you don’t know is how long it’s going to take for the bad news and the bad guy to catch up with Katie, who’s running from her past mistakes with a new blond hairdo that never fades or needs upkeep.

Josh Duhamel and Mimi Kirkland star in Relativity Media's "Safe Haven." (Relativty Media) Josh Duhamel and Mimi Kirkland star in Relativity Media's "Safe Haven." (Relativty Media)

You don’t know the plot is going to be full of small holes like the characters always leaving the car, bike or canoe behind, in the road, in the lake, in the way; and that Katie’s makeup will remain flawless and glossy throughout it all whether it’s a long bus ride, a drenching rainstorm or a fight on the ground.

You don’t know how it’s all going to come together in a neat package in the end. You just know it’s going to.

Without giving away the ending and the “surprises,” let’s just say it’s pretty far-fetched and implausible. There was an audible groan from the audience at the media screening.

The movie is not hopeless. There’s some clever humor and, again, the Lexie character is totally endearing.

Noah Lomax, left, Josh Duhamel and Mimi Kirkland star in Relativity Media's "Safe Haven." (Relativty Media) Noah Lomax, left, Josh Duhamel and Mimi Kirkland star in Relativity Media's "Safe Haven." (Relativty Media)

It would be a perfect fit for the Hallmark Channel, except for the love scene that includes a lot of skin.

The violence is pretty disturbing as well.

It feels very much like a clone of “Sleeping With The Enemy” with an odd twist at the end.

And it takes forever to reach a conclusion.

“Safe Haven” is rated PG-13 for threatening behavior, violence and sexuality; running time: 120 minutes

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: haddoc@desnews.com

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