The thing about Safe Haven is that it is the best movie I have ever seen. And I’m only mostly kidding. An extremely Nicholas Sparksian Nicholas Sparks-based film, Safe Haven is “about” a young woman, Katie (Julianne Hough) who escapes her nasty past and lands in a small Carolinian town where she falls in love with super tan widower with two cute kids, Alex (Josh Duhamel). I put “about” in quotation marks because there is simultaneously so much more to the movie and so much less to the love story.
The first hour is a string of incredibly mediocre and sometimes wholly incoherent scenes that sort of culminate in Alex and Katie loving each other, but it’s not well developed, or well acted, or well written. It is hilarious, though. There are whole conversations, entire chunks of dialogue, that just have no purpose whatsoever. It’s so funny. There is a conversation about gorillas and how they eat kale. That’s actually in the movie. Katie and Alex are flirty and get caught in the rain, and then they go to a restaurant and TALK ABOUT GORILLAS. It’s like an alien who is incapable of feeling any human emotion tried to write a romance story by watching a whole bunch of Lifetime movies and one Animal Planet special about apes, and then pulled random words from them and slapped them on screen. It is so entertainingly awful.
Josh Duhamel, I happen to like, probably because I am a straight woman, but he’s charming enough and really tan and pleasant to look at, and he wears shirts really well, and I guess that’s mostly why they made this movie, so yeah, they got me there. Whatever. Julianne Hough is…in the movie. She is on screen and she says words. That’s about all there is to say about her performance. Cobie Smulders is also in Save Haven and plays Jo, a confusingly creepy neighbor that Katie eventually befriends. Then, Jo becomes the best thing about the movie, by far. That’s all I will say about that.
The second hour of the movie (yes, it’s practically two hours long) is the most brilliant hour of cinema there has ever been in the world. Katie’s real story is that she left her abusive husband (David Lyons), who is a super drunk Boston cop (“What’s in your water bottle?” is a question he gets asked by his boss. It’s an actual line of dialogue in this movie, Safe Haven, which was released in theaters, nationwide, in the United States of America, in the year 2013). The drunk husband shows up in their idyllic little town and Save Haven becomes more of a “thriller.” I put “thriller” in quotation marks because I guess that would kind of sort of be the word for it, even though it’s not thrilling or scary. But there are fireworks and a parade and a building on fire and fight with a gun. It is pretty amazing.
I saw the movie with my genius of a roommate, who summed up the essence of Save Haven (and every other Nicholas Sparks movie) with a fantastically effective list of rules, in case you’re so inclined to turn this (or literally any other Nicholas Sparks movie) into a drinking game. I cannot take credit for these. But here is the Official Nicholas Sparks Drinking Game:
- Drink when the two pretty white people meet
- Drink when obstacles come between their love
- Drink every time clothes are removed
- Drink when a character announces he/she has some kind of disease
- Drink when someone dies
- Drink when there’s a montage
- Drink when someone says “We can’t be together” or some variation of that
- Drink when the plot seems to be written specifically to cause obstacles even though in any normal world they wouldn’t be problems
- Drink whenever you’re just like, “What? Why?”
- Drink whenever someone cries
- Drink whenever there’s a kiss or embrace in any type of precipitation and/or while one or all parties are wet
Every one of these happen at least once in Save Haven. And there are 5 montages.
Grade: A+ (but actually C-, but actually kind of A+)