Alert! Alert! Alert! Nicholas Sparks and we all know what that means. Kleenex!
For some odd reason everyone and their mother seemed to know that director Lasse Hallström’s film adaptation of Sparks’ latest, Safe Haven, would be arriving at retail on May 7 as both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack production offerings. But it wasn’t announced officially until this past week (literally at pre-book).
No matter, with $70.3 million at the box office Safe Haven will do just fine. The ARR is a zippy 81 days! It looks as though Fox pushed this hard to market to make a Mother’s Day window (that’s smart).
Erin/Katie (dancer, singer and actress Julianne Hough — Footloose, Rock of Ages) is in an abusive marriage to a drunk, but to make matters even worse, Kevin (David Lyons — Storm Warning, Eat Pray Love, etc.) is a Boston police detective. That means he is an abusive drunk with a gun.
So she does the only reasonable thing and takes off, changes her name and shows up at one of Sparks’ favorite locations, a beach town on the North Carolina coast (filmed in and around Southport). In a yarn very similar to the 1991 Julia Roberts film, Sleeping With the Enemy, Katie (her new name) is also a beautiful young woman on the run from a dangerous husband and she too meets and falls in love with one of the locals. Not just any man, but a handsome family man named Alex (Josh Duhamel), a recent widower with two young kids.
Now all of these plot elements drive mainstream film critics right up the wall. Throw in a life-and-death confrontation with Kevin in the third act and you have all you need to get them worked into an absolute frenzy.
But when it comes to Nicholas Sparks, you just have to remember the chorus to the Jim Croce song:
"You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim"
Film critics that bashed this film are simply spitting into the wind. It probably makes them feel good saying snarky things about the film, but Safe Haven delivers exactly what it promises, a romantic story, with a sad/happy ending. Just look at the box office results, fans win; critics ended up wet from their own verbosity.
A few observations ... First, Julianne Hough just became a full-blown star with this film … a full breakout. Second, those expecting to need handfuls of Kleenex to soak up the free-flowing tears for the sad, sad ending got a nice, if very eerie twist from Sparks that, again, sent those all too smug critics into apoplectic fits.
As to bonus features, both the DVD and Blu-ray SKUs include an alternate ending (that should be interesting) and deleted scenes. Exclusive to the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack are a trio of featurettes — “Igniting the Romance in Safe Haven,” “Set Tour” and “Josh Duhamel's Lessons in Crabbing.”
To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report