I love “Safe Haven.” I truly, love this Nicholas Sparks adapted romance starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. I just don’t love it for the reasons that the filmmakers intended. “Safe Haven,” directed by Oscar nominee Lasse Hallstom, has an ending that is so balls out goofy it turns an otherwise banal romantic thriller into one of the most gloriously cheeseball movies of all time.
A woman on the run
“Safe Haven” stars former “Dancing with the Stars” pro Julianne Hough as Katie, a woman on the run from a dangerous past. Flashbacks inform us that Katie may have murdered her abusive husband. We find Katie as she is boarding a bus that will eventually wisk her away to the idyllic paradise of Southport, North Carolina.
Southport is a town so small that no one bothers to do background checks or require a proof of ID before giving someone a job and renting them a home; what luck for a woman who may or may not be wanted for murder. Back in Katie’s, not her real name mind you, home town in Boston a very determined and sweaty detective (David Lyons) is pulling out all the stops to track her down.
Of course there is a love story
Naturally, while Katie is trying to keep a low profile she will fall in love; this is a Nicholas Sparks adaptation after all. The love interest is Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two adorable tots and an irrestible southern manner. He’s smitten immediately but Katie needs a pushy neighbor named Jo (Cobie Smulders, “How I Met Your Mother”) before she gives up her seclusion for romance.
For most of “Safe Haven” we are treated to boilerplate Nicholas Sparks romantic drama as Katie and Alex fall in love and Katie’s past looms as the final act obstacle to their happily ever after. Then the final minutes of “Safe Haven” arrive and like a phoenix from the ashes of mediocrity “Safe Haven” arises to become an all time cornball classic; a true epic of cheesy badness.
No spoilers, I promise
I will not spoil the ending in this review because I want you to see it for yourself. I realize that this flies in the face of being a professional critic; recommending a bad movie, but I can’t help myself; I love how bad this movie ends and I want to share it with you. The ending of “Safe Haven,” for those who haven’t read Sparks’ novel, is joyous nonsense; a twist even M. Night Shyamalan would find contrived.
So wonderfully dumb is this ending that it took me nearly biting through my bottom lip to keep from bursting out in girlish giggles. Until the final 10 minutes, give or take a minute, I was ready to forget about “Safe Haven.” Once the final credits began to roll however, I wanted to stand up and applaud and thank Lasse Hallstrom for the gift he’s given to bad movie lovers everywhere.
“Safe Haven” is the first, and likely the only, must see bad movie of 2013.