Movie Review: The Choice
Nicholas Sparks' biggest film hit was The Notebook...so for Valentine's Day this year, he decided to make it again.
The Choice is about a girl who has to make a choice, and then a guy who does, with a bunch of sunsets and ocean panoramas in between. The movie follows the Sparks formula. I will break it down for those don't know what this formula is (or who Nicholas Sparks is—which, by the way, I didn't know as possible until my coworker asked me who he was when I told her I was seeing this movie, and my heart stopped beating when I realized she was serious). The Sparks formula is: girl meets boy, doesn't like boy, has a Southern accent, falls in love with boy, and has an unnecessary tragedy to make a double entendre play on the title.
But The Choice follows this formula and then copies the rest of The Notebook as well (except with lame stand-ins for Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams):
The male lead's father is a single dad
The female lead is spunky
The female lead has broad aspirations like being a doctor (The Choice) or a painter (The Notebook)
(No spoilers but...) somebody cheats
The famous "what do you WANT" scene is basically replicated, hands up around her face and all
The movie uses a frame structure to set up the story, flash back, and lead up to where we started
This in media res setup spans seven years (not sure why Sparks thinks seven years is the magic number to prove love or something)
(No spoilers but...) the heart wrenching "twist" leaves the man showing his undying devotion for his wife (ironic from a writer who is getting divorced, eh? I wonder if Sparks' wife will get any of his royalties)
The man "goes a little bit crazy" (The Choice) and "had gone a little mad" (The Notebook)
This mental break prompts him to build a ridiculously elaborate project for his love with his bare hands and Southern sweat
That all being said, The Notebook is one of my favorite movies, so I'm glad I saw The Choice (Bob is probably not as glad). But you could also save some cash and avoid frostbite this freezing weekend and watch Gosling and McAdams do it better.
Stars: 5 out of 5*
What to bring: Tissues (it's Nicholas Sparks, after all)
*Disclaimer: I originally gave this 2 out of 5 stars until I started remembering how much dogs played a part in the movie. Then I had to give it 5 stars.
The Choice is the kind of movie that you can watch again in its entirety in four months and be unsure the entire time if you've seen it before. This is the equivalent of a Nicholas Sparks paint by numbers film, the kind of movie that seems like it could be produced in a factory in a production line.
A southern womanizer (who is never actually seen womanizing) and a high-strung but passionate southern gal meet and fall in love, and then deal with both conflict caused by the circumstances of their romance and conflict caused by whatever random tragedy that Nicholas Sparks' "Pick a disaster wheel" lands on.
The random tragedy in every Nicholas Sparks' film (and in The Choice) seems especially confusing to me, because everything else in his movies seems to be built around escapism. In the Choice, the protagonist is a romanticized version of the Southern Gentleman with none of the downsides. Characters are always outside enjoying lush scenery, men work with their hands, and the small town is a wholesome community of loving personalities. It's easy to see the appeal for people disappointed by the place and time they live in. Little do they know, that there is a penalty for living in this idyllic wonderland. You WILL be the unsuspecting victim of a sudden tragedy. Maybe it will be a degenerative brain disorder, maybe it will be a house fire, maybe it will be a car accident that puts you into a coma, maybe you'll go blind and deaf. But, unquestionably, you will suffer.
And as a viewer, I will suffer too. (Transition of the year!)
How does it compare to other Nicholas Sparks Movies: They are all the same