The Best of Me posterIf you’ve never seen a movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel, then don’t start with this one. The Best of Me is not the worst of the bunch, but it’s not the best either.

Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Last Song, Safe Haven

Love ‘em or leave ‘em. They are what they are. Sweet, formulaic, sappy, romantic, tragic… an uplifting downer with lots of water and a sweeping score that will let you know what you’re supposed to be feeling – or fearing – at any given moment. And, of course, attractive actors playing characters with names like ‘Dawson’ and ‘Amanda’.

In this case, James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan are Dawson and Amanda, high school sweethearts who are reunited after 20 years when they return to their small hometown for the funeral of a beloved friend (played by ‘Major Dad’ Gerald McRaney). The film intercuts between past and present, with Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato playing the younger Dawson and Amanda as they fall in love, and are torn apart by… something. Wait for it… the answer will come in the final half-hour.

The Best of Me is the type of movie best shared by a group of friends (or a very obliging significant other) who will enjoy the eye candy, comparing notes on the plausibility of the younger and older actors being able to pass as the same person 20 years apart, and laughing when you’re probably supposed to be crying. Or moaning and groaning at the twist that you saw coming, but still hoped wouldn’t. It’s destiny.

IT’S A NICHOLAS SPARKS MOVIE! Don’t over-think it.

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