Kids fall in love so easily these days. Throw one hot neighbor at them and all of a sudden, they’re smitten!
Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker) is a ladies’ man who doesn’t have any sort of rush to get into a serious, romantic relationship because, well, life is good enough, so why bother with all of that other crap, right? Well, that’s why when Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer) moves in next door, he’s thrown for a loop; not only is this a woman he’s attracted to physically, but mentally as well. But little does he know that Gabby herself has some love going on in her own life with a long-term boyfriend (Tom Welling), whom she’s looking to settle down with. But as fate would have it, the two end-up finding themselves together in ways they never expected to. At first, what starts out as a little fun and fiery fling, soon turns into something loving, caring, and above all else, serious. Clearly, this scares the absolute hell out of Travis, but he’s willing to let all of that go to be with Gabby? Heck, is Gabby willing to let all of her freedom go away on someone as much of a wild card as Travis? Who knows!
But really, who cares?
Everybody knows what they’re getting into when they decide to see a Nicholas Sparks movie, so why does anybody bother? Well, there’s always that small, but surprising off-chance that there will be the one movie to break the curse and show that, even despite all of Sparks’ fluffy mannerisms and conventions, his material can still somewhat, kind of, sort of, maybe work. It’s been quite some time since the Notebook (aka, the last actually “good” Sparks movie), but really, we’ve been through some barn-burners since then.
And needless to say, yes, the Choice is another “bad” Sparks movie that shows just why the haters will continue to hate, and the lovers, will continue to love and support his work until he eventually succumbs to his own plot-devices, like say a random disease, car accident, or incident in which death is the outcome.
But if anything about the Choice actually comes close to working, then it’s the chemistry between Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker, both of whom are clearly a lot better than they material they’re saddled with, but are giving it their all anyway. Walker’s Travis is, of course, the usual Sparks man: He’s cool, suave with the ladies, speaks in a Southern twang, but at the same time, a bit heartfelt and has a tender hand when it comes to curing animals. Basically, he’s the perfect man that doesn’t exist in real life, but Walker shows some heart and humanity to this character that’s not only believable, but actually sympathetic, even though we know he’s a type, and a very lazy one at that.
As for Palmer, her Gabby is another Sparks type, but this time, in woman form: She’s fun, flighty, sweet, but at the same time, confused about what she wants in life and scared of falling in love. Here’s another human that doesn’t exist in the real world, but Palmer tries her hardest to keep her character her interesting, lovely, and most importantly, believable, even when it seems like she’s making random decisions, bad solely on moving the plot along. Together, they create something that can seem genuine and sweet, even if the movie loves to dive into their personal histories, like which family-member died, what artifact did they leave behind, and why exactly they all touched their lives.
It’s all a bunch of a melodrama that we’ve seen before with Sparks’ movies, and here, it’s just all the more annoying, because it’s obvious Palmer and Walker really do seem to be trying.
However, what’s weird about the Choice, is that it’s never fully known just who these characters are, what they do, and why it is we’re watching these two fall in love. Because almost every member of the cast is at least 30 years old, or above, it’s hard to place just what age these characters are, where they stand in terms of their education, and just what the hell kind of jobs they have to maintain their overall peaceful, luxurious lifestyles on the lakes of North Carolina. Clearly, this is all fiction, that can sometimes border on fantasy, but it really sets in when it becomes clear that the movie less concerned about these character’s own, personal lives, and more concerned with just who it is that they’re going to bed with, and/or smitten with.
Then again, any person in my position would know better than to expect actual detailed heart or humanity with a Nicholas Sparks movie. But then, the movie continues to go on and on, showing this romance developing over years and years with one another, and we’re supposed to believe that they’re going through all sorts of the same problems that couples seem to go through, yet, we never actually hear them or see how they start. We just see how they materialize and then, suddenly, end. It’s as if there’s hardly any build-up, but just a drop and we’re supposed to connect the dots of what’s going on, for what reasons, and how exactly we’re supposed to feel.
However, considering that the Choice is another Sparks movie, it’s pretty clear what we’re supposed to feel: Sap and a whole lot of it.
And of course, the people who love these kinds of movies will fall for this, hook, line and sinker, nor should they feel otherwise. After all, this is their movie, and nobody else’s. But that’s the problem with these Sparks movies – they never seem to be for anyone else, but the target-demographic. The Notebook, while all sorts of cheesy and over-the-top at times, also happens to be a coming-of-age tale, where we not only believe the romance, but see how it develops over time, with enough attention and care to detail. The cast is also allowed to work wonders, too, with just the right enough of good material, to balance out the terrible ones.
However, the Choice still feels very much for the audience who has been with Sparks since the Notebook and haven’t left his side, even though mostly all of his movies since then, have been absolute crap. They’re the kinds of movies that don’t care about getting anybody new interested in their stories, but rather, continue to aim for the same audience members, having them swoon, cry and love life all over again. Sure, it’s not like the movies are necessarily making people turn to heartless, evil human beings, but at the same time, they aren’t doing much else either.
And that’s just pure laziness that needs to stop, or be done away with.
Neither of which, I’m afraid, will actually happen to Nicholas Sparks movies.
Consensus: As usual, the Choice is a sappy, predictable, and believe it or not, boring piece of Nicholas Sparks fiction that shows why, once again, his movies don’t care about anyone else except for the audience who is already buying tickets for this now, as we speak.
2.5 / 10
Together, they’re both pretty pretty.
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Rotten Tomatoes