The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
A Marine sees a photograph almost buried in rubble in the middle of a combat scene. He steps over to pick it up, and with that small movement, he saves his life. A nearby explosion would have wiped him out. The photo stays with him through his third tour of duty, and when he comes home, he determines to find the girl in the photograph. He doesn't know her name or where she lives, but wouldn't you know, through happy chance he happens to be passing through Louisiana — and there she is!
I'm not going to say anything at all about the odds of that happening. The odds are overwhelmingly against anything in any movie happening, so I should just shut up and pay attention. This is yet another love story adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel, and it has been cast with appealing romantic leads, a snaky villain with a drinking problem, a grandmother with infallible instincts and a lot of adorable dogs. It also has leaves bursting into bright autumn colors, and a lake just right for a couple to steal away for a quiet chat on a rowboat.
Nicholas Sparks has a good line in stories like this. They usually involve the triumph of love over adversity, are usually set in beautiful natural settings, usually involve such coincidences as finding a message in a bottle, and usually make me stir restlessly, because such escapism is shameless. Still, credit must be given to a film that delivers the goods, and if you've ever liked a Nicholas Sparks movie, you're likely to enjoy this one. I've seen him in interviews where he's better-looking than some of his leading men and comes across as sincere. I think he really does believe in his stories, and I think readers sense that.
The Marine is Logan (Zac Efron), an engaging actor who is natural onscreen, without the insufferable self-confidence of a lot of leading men. If he wins the love of a woman, he has the grace to seem a little surprised. The girl in Louisiana is Beth (Taylor Schilling), who looks plausible as the owner and operator of a first-rate dog kennel in a picturesque rural setting, and no character who loves dogs is going to have a problem with me. Beth is pretty much perfect, but she made a big mistake when she married Keith Clayton (Jay R. Ferguson), a local deputy sheriff who's an insufferable bully with an inferiority conflict. Keith did however serve as the father of Beth's cute, spunky son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart). The moment he sees Logan hanging around his ex-wife of course he begins to threaten her custody of their child.