As recently as 48 hours ago, I'd have bet all the money in the world that I would go the rest of my life without seeing "Safe Haven," the latest cinematic adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Sparks, whose "The Notebook" was a massive hit in 2004, has become a cottage industry unto himself: every year or two, there's a new movie version of something he's written starring a pair of attractive stars who overcome adversity to fall in love and then make out in the rain and/or an open-air shower. I've reviewed a few of these films — "Nights in Rodanthe" and "The Lucky One" — and avoided the rest.
The latest is "Safe Haven," starring Julianne Hough as a young woman on the run from a dark past and Josh Duhamel as Channing Tatum. I'm sure Sparks fans will be pleased, but one look at the movie's trailer and I found myself quoting my grandmother: "this is not for me." My colleague, Jordan Hoffman, got assigned to review the film for ScreenCrush, and I figured that was the last I'd ever think about the movie.
Not quite. Apparently there is no safe haven from "Safe Haven!" All week, critics who saw the movie have been tweeting about the craziness of the movie's surprise twist ending. And since I wasn't going to see the movie anyway, I made Jordan tell me just what they were all joking about, the "secret" of "Safe Haven."
And now I'm really tempted to see "Safe Haven."
It's funny how this works. Once we started joking about it on Twitter others asked to know — and now they want to see it too. Random strangers started asking me to spoil it for them. At Badass Digest, Amy Nicholson calls "Safe Haven" "the year's weirdest twist ending" — and if that's not a marketing hook, I don't know what is:
"A Nicholas Sparks movie needs three things: a beach, a babe, and a bro. 'Safe Haven' delivers the Holy Trinity — a sacrament that guarantees a hot and heavy date night — and then drives the whole movie off a bridge, like Sparks has gotten so bored with his seaside weepies that he shrugged and said, 'Screw it, let's throw in [PLOT SPOILER REDACTED].'"
Spoilers are supposedly the greatest scourge of the movie world, even worse than the death of celluloid and the films of Uwe Boll combined. And yet without a spoiler, there is no way on Earth I would have watched "Safe Haven." And now I almost certainly will — if not in theaters then on Blu-ray or VOD later this year. It will happen. I may be slightly unsober at the time, but it will happen.
I recognize I'm kind of a weird person ("kind of"), and that some folks may not want to pay good money to see a movie once they know the ending. But if I was in charge of marketing this thing, this is exactly how I would proceed. "See the ending that has audiences talking! And also making jokes!" "An ending you have to see to believe!" Because, frankly, until I see it, I'm not sure I believe it either.
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