A good romantic comedy is something I enjoy talking about, and my single relationship status has never been a merit for not liking a particular film of the genre. Just thought I'd make that clear, so I didn't have to sift through responses saying at how I'm romantically ignorant to films like Safe Haven because I've never experienced a true romance myself.
Let me tell you, if real-life romances are anything like the schmaltzy, picturesque, contrived trite presented with us in the latest Nicholas Sparks film adaptation, I'd rather be eternally bound to my pet cat. Marking the eight Sparks film adaptation, Safe Haven isn't impossibly unromantic like The Vow (not a Sparks-coined film, but last year's Valentine's Day cash-grab), yet it stems from the same touchy, over-sentimentalized roots many of these pictures do, offering nothing more than a cheap escapist fantasy.
The backdrop for this story is Southport, North Carolina, a coastal area which is populated with happy, good-looking, witty white people that look like they were cut out of GQ/Maxim magazine covers. Southport is the place where our protagonist Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) believes she can find solace in, after catching a bus and a plane, running away from an unknown problem in the beginning of the film.
Upon touching down, she tries out the area a bit before buying a rundown shack in the middle of absolute nowhere, and when she goes to buy paint for her floors, she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel) and his two sweetheart children, Josh and Lexi. Alex is instantly attracted to Katie and it's not hard to find out why. She's petite, built nicely, her blonde hair flows so majestically when the coast winds pick up that she is the dreamgirl of almost anyone. But Katie isn't totally ready for a relationship, as she is trying to forget her past of course. She drums up a relationship with Jo (Cobie Smulders), a local southerner who attempts to teach her the noble ways of the land she has just set foot on.
As anyone can tell, Alex and Katie begin hanging out more, inevitably become more attracted to one another, and all in good time for that pesky problem burdening Katie's past to come back and bite her.
There's an irritating emptiness to Safe Haven, which is beginning to drive me nuts in new romantic films (romantic comedies are a somewhat different story). Many modern films of the genre feature the same little details; a very attractive couple, incredulous situations, postcard worthy landscapes, little development between characters, uninteresting side-characters, and irrelevant small-talk between characters that are enough to drive those still living in reality up the wall. The Nicholas Sparks film exist in an augmented reality, where coincidences are more than prevalent to several situations and there is a romance that is seemingly eternal. I do not discourage Sparks films, but I believe that they rely too much on fantasy and not enough on reality. A little fantasy is fine, but when they're consistently plagued by incredulity and far-fetched setups, they become redundant, and worse, the films become interchangeable (before you disagree, look up the posters for The Last Song, The Lucky One, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Safe Haven, and A Walk to Remember and then tell me the small little notable differences that differentiate those films apart). Sparks has successfully f