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'Safe Haven' is a sudsy-scary weepfest

'Safe Haven,' starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, is more of a Gothic chick flick than anything.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / February 14, 2013

Julianne Hough (r.) and Josh Duhamel (l.) star in 'Safe Haven.'

James Bridges/Relativity Media/AP

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The latest Nicholas Sparks-derived weepfest, “Safe Haven,” is being marketed as a Valentine’s Day special, but the plot line is closer to a stalker thriller. It’s sudsy-scary. It’s also not very good, although this may not matter to its core audience. Its director, Lasse Hallström, has objected to the term “chick flick,” but if the shoe fits...

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He’s right to think of the term as limiting, though. No one would seriously call a Jane Austen novel “chick lit.” “Safe Haven” is a species of Gothic chick flick: Running-from-danger heroine (Julianne Hough) finds friendly anonymity – and a hunky widower (Josh Duhamel) with two cute kids – in a sleepy North Carolina town. In pursuit is a rabid policeman (David Lyons) who practically froths at the mouth. At least he doesn’t turn into a werewolf or a vampire. Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.)

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