The Lucky One

Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling PG-13 |

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ROMANCE

Banish your shame: Sexually objectifying Efron is the entire point of The Lucky One. The kid from High School Musical is all grown up (he's 24), so go ahead and ogle. That's professional advice, because the film has lovely views but not much else.

In this Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Efron plays Logan, a Marine who is saved when he picks up a photo in the debris after an Iraqi firefight, seconds before a mortar explodes where he had just been sitting. Deciding that the pictured woman is his lucky charm, he sets out to find her. She's Beth (Schilling), a Louisiana mom who hires Logan to help with her dog kennel business.

Most of what transpires next is thin soup, with Logan befriending Beth's mildly saucy grandma Ellie (Blythe Danner) and crossing her cartoonishly evil ex Keith (Jay R. Ferguson). Of course he literally charms the pants off Beth, and the two do a fine job of steaming up the screen (even if she looks a decade older than him). If there's a quibble-well, apart from the wan plot and paper-thin characters-it's that there's not enough adult action. As cinematic sexual awakenings go, PG-13 is far too tame.

Think Like a Man

Gabrielle Union, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall, Jerry Ferrara, Michael Ealy | PG-13 |

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ROMANTIC COMEDY

There's a funny, snappy film in Think Like a Man, but you have to sit through an hour of product placement to get there. The product is comedian Steve Harvey's 2009 bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, an advice tome that would be sexist except for the fact that it treats men like simple mutts in need of training. The film shows what happens when frustrated girlfriend Kristen (Union), single mom Candace (Hall), executive Lauren (Henson) and bad dater Mya (Good) use the book's tactics on a group of basketball buddies, with Harvey himself popping up to guide the audience through the book, chapter by chapter. Once Man finally gets down to telling its tales of dating purgatory, it's clear that the cast is enormously likeable, the scenarios are relatable and the plots have solid emotional payoffs. The film feels too long, but that's only because we can't fast-forward through the commercials.

APRIL'S BEST DVDS

1 THE IRON LADY Even if you don't care a whit about Oscar bait or Margaret Thatcher, you must see Meryl Streep's performance for what it truly is: a once-in-a-generation actress beautifully embodying a life in decline.

2 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-GHOST PROTOCOL If Tom Cruise hanging off the world's tallest building is enough for you, the basic DVD will do. But for the truly devoted, the three-disc set has a slew of featurettes.

3 PARIAH Perhaps the home theater is a better setting for writer-director Dee Rees's story of gay high schooler Alike (Adepero Oduye) growing up in a conservative black family. The film is as intimate as it is powerful.

As Think Like a Man's soon-to-be-divorced loudmouth Cedric, Hart robs his castmates blind, snatching their scenes with his pugnacious smack talk. It's familiar territory for the stand-up comic, who previously upstaged Chris Rock in Death at a Funeral and Ben Stiller in Little Fockers.

DARLING COMPANION

Joseph (Kevin Kline) and Beth (Diane Keaton) hit a rough patch when he loses her dog in this comic miss. The cast is lovely, but director Lawrence Kasdan's tone and timing are way off.

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MONSIEUR LAZHAR

After a teacher commits suicide, a mysterious man (Mohamed Fellag, right) steps in to bring her students back to life. It's somber but beautiful, in subtitled French.

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MARLEY

In this striking documentary, director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) shows why Bob Marley remains the reigning reggae king. His life is celebrated through touching interviews with bandmates, family-and mistresses.

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THE THREE STOOGES

Told in episodes, the movie is 92 minutes of truly stupid fun, with precision acting from stars Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso and Sean Hayes. Still, only hardcore fans should put in the time-everyone else will just find it inane.

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