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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.

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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...

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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