With Valentine’s Day falling on a Thursday this year, the typical Friday release date is being bumped up a day for audiences looking for a way to spend the holiday—whether they’re on a date or not. First up is the latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, Safe Haven. The story this time around focuses on a woman named Katie (Julianne Hough), whose arrival in a small North Carolina town draws the attention of sexy widower/father of two Alex (Josh Duhamel). What Alex doesn’t know is that Katie’s on the run from a dark past, one that will eventually catch up to her.
In other words, Safe Haven isn’t too far removed from (ahem) The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Lucky One, or The Last Song. Yes, all of these films are based on Nicholas Sparks books, and while the settings and time periods may change (slightly), they all more or less follow the same formula. It’s one that occasionally works brilliantly—The Notebook is still used as the first piece of evidence of Ryan Gosling’s sexiness, after all—but after so many iterations of the same basic themes, there’s only so much new audiences can expect. Hough and Duhamel both provide serviceable performances for the film (Hough is definitely a step up from Miley Cyrus), but audiences may be better off rewatching The Notebook.