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Safe Haven
1 Waffle!

Are you ready for a legendary love story to warm the cockles of your heart on Valentine's Day? Would you settle for Safe Haven?

Julianne Hough stars as Katie - a woman on the run from the law! Katie was involved in something horrible back home in Boston, and she decided getting out of town was the best, and only choice (because you don't want to end up in the joint when you look as pretty as Julianne Hough).

Now, she anonymously has settled down in a small little Outer Banks town in North Carolina, and the hunky widower who runs the local shop, Alex (Josh Duhamel), has started making eyes at her, and she's making eyes at him, too (because, they look like Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel).

Of course, it is only a matter of time until the past comes back to haunt Katie and her new life.

What did Katie do?

Will she be found?

I was almost ready to give Safe Haven a pass until it involved one of the most ludicrous twists I have ever seen in a movie. It's so horrible, I wish I could stand out in front of cineplexes (cineplexi?) across the country yelling what it was at the top of my lungs to save you from the pain and shock. Instead, I have to deduct 1 Waffle because it is the only power I have (unless those magic beans I bought from that dude at the train station turn out to be something special).

Directed by Lasse "I fear he owes money to many overseas bookies threatening to break his knee caps" Hallstrom (why else would he do Safe Haven?) and written by Leslie Bohem and Dana Stevens, this is another adaption of a Nicholas Sparks book, and you couldn't miss the formula if you closed your eyes and put your iPod on max volume.

Have you seen Dear John? The Last Song? The Lucky One? The Notebook? Then, you have seen Safe Haven, because many of the same elements are present like they are in all work from Sparks, but not in the comforting, fond way you might like your familiarity. This is the bad familiarity, the one that brings dread as you sit in the movie theater and realize you should have bought tickets to Side Effects instead.

We have the celebration of good, honest small town America where everyone is super nice, kisses occur in the rain, all surroundings are picturesque lakes and creeks and oceans straight out of a painting, and true love can conquer all (especially if you look like Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough). Sure, it is nauseating pabulum, but the movie is pleasant enough when going through the motions.

Duhamel is a charming leading man. He does have an ease about him and the ability to convey warmth even when the leading lady has no chemistry with him. However, Hough is out of her league.

She is fine enough as the pleasant pretty girl, but serious drama and emotion fail her. Where's the depth that matches those deep blue eyes? Oh. Right. Having the deep blue eyes seems to be more important than having acting depth.

Safe Haven drags in the middle, and you have to swallow some big holes in common sense like the police have a wanted poster of Katie on their wall for what feels like weeks, but no one recognizes her as that new girl they see every single day at their favorite restaurant hanging out with their best pal Alex!

Plus, our bad guy is simplistically, super overly bad and over the top. He laughably chews up the scenery in the most annoying way possible, which leads to an outlandish climactic scene that would damage your opinion of Safe Haven if you hadn't given up already.

I was willing to go 2 Waffles on this one, but that big twist is beyond unacceptable and enters into legendary, Gigli-level incredulity. What makes it even worse is that it isn't necessary and doesn't add anything to the movie.

Safe Haven is rated PG-13 for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.


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