Nicholas Sparks is the master of romance. He is a best-selling author whose books have been made into popular movies about love -- "The Notebook," "Nights in Rodanthe," "Message in a Bottle," to name a few. While "Safe Haven" follows many of the formulaic plot points for which Sparks is best-known, it deviates in a way that adds a bit more punch to the romance.
Katie (Julianne Hough) is running -- why exactly we do not know. But she seems pretty set on getting as far away from Boston as possible. Someone is on her trail: Boston cop Tierney (David Lyons), who seems like he will stop at nothing to find her.
Katie gets off the bus in a beach-side town in North Carolina and decides to stay. She gets herself a job at a local seafood joint and finds a place out in the woods to live. She is doing a pretty good job of keeping to herself, until she catches the eye of Alex (Josh Duhamel).
|2 stars out of 4|
|Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders, David Lyons|
|Director: Lasse Hallstrom|
|Rated: PG-13 for some violence, sexual situations and mild profanity|
|Running Time: 115 minutes|
Alex runs the general store in town. He is a widower with two young children. He is smitten with Katie as soon as he sees her. He fixes up an old bike and gives it to her so she doesn't have to walk to and from town. At first, Katie rebuffs his advances, but on the advice of her friend and neighbor Jo (Cobie Smulders), she gives in and finds herself getting attached to Alex and his children.
But Tierney is still tracking her. While Katie and Alex are falling for each other -- with all the eye-rolling sap you'd expect -- he is hunting down every lead to find her back in Boston. Director Lasse Hallstrom does a good job of building up the suspense by cutting back and forth between the idyllic small town and the gritty city.
And it does get pretty tense there for awhile. Will Tierney catch up with Katie? How will Alex react when he finds out the truth? I won't spoil anything here, but there are a few twists that viewers won't see coming -- unless you've read the book, of course.
It is a pretty entertaining movie for about 95 percent of the film. But the ending almost ruins everything. However, up until that point, it is definitely worth the price of admission -- at least if you are in the market for a good, fluffy tale this Valentine's Day.