The last time we saw Julianne Hough on a bus, she was a fresh-faced ingenue en route to Los Angeles to fulfill her dream of being a singer in the forgettable Rock of Ages. This time around, in the trailer for Safe Haven, she’s Katie, a mysterious stranger fleeing the Boston PD and winding up in a small North Carolina town. As reluctant as she is to join the community, she starts to fall for Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower and shop owner who reaches out to her. But then her past catches up with her!
I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that this is a Nicholas Sparks movie, since the plot is pretty standard for one of these weepy romantic drama/mysteries. The trailer (which you can watch below) hits all the necessary points and tugs at the heartstrings. In fact, it follows so closely to the formula that we feel it’s time to lay out the ground rules for making a proper Sparks film.
Step 1: A woman torn between two things.
Step 2: Someone has a dark secret they won’t divulge.
Step 3: That same person must do penance for his/her past, usually in the form of physical labor.
Step 4: A small community — the more tight-knit the better — that will judge you.
Step 5: Cameos from talented actors that are downplayed, such as Cobie Smulders playing the friend who takes Jo in but will probably end up feeling betrayed when her sordid past comes out.
Step 6: Whatever you do, you must always follow your sense of duty. Whether it’s to family (The Notebook, The Last Song), faith (A Walk to Remember), or your literal military duty (The Lucky One).
Step 7: WATER SCENES. This is non-negotiable.
Step 8: Someone dies. C’mon, you know it’s inevitable.
And in case you’re wondering if Julianne is lending her voice to the soundtrack, that cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s “You Can Go Your Own Way” is sung by Lissie.
Safe Haven comes out February 8, 2013.
Photo: Relativity Media