What can I say? It’s a Nicholas Sparks movie! The Choice is yours to make. As I’ve written many, many times in the past few years, if you’ve seen/liked any or all of the other romantic dramas adapted from Sparks’ sappy best-sellers, then you’ll probably like this one too. It’s not the best (The Notebook kind of set the bar) and it’s not the worst (I lean toward Safe Haven for that honor). But it does fill a gap in the box office for the contemporary romdram.
The formula remains much the same: The story takes place in a small coastal town in North Carolina. Attractive people with romance-novel names go out on a boat – to provide the standard dose of eye candy. Sparks fly. Things go right. Things go wrong. Life and love hangs in the balance. Choices must be made.
Here’s the (largely spoiler-free) gist of the plot: Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker) is the sarcastic and charming local vet and perennial ladies’ man who is struck by the love bug when a feisty medical student named Gabby (Teresa Parker) moves in next door. They bond and spar over their dogs, steal glances across the lawn, and eventually get together – leaving her cute doctor boyfriend (played by Tom Welling of Smallville fame) out in the cold. The first half of the movie is basically solid romantic dramedy focusing on the evolution of the Travis-Gabby romance. Then, tragedy (typical of a Nicholas Sparks narrative) shifts the movie into heavier drama territory and the movie starts to drag. I had my tissues at the ready but never needed them. Therein lies my biggest issue with The Choice. The dialogue is quippy, but the chemistry between the leads wasn’t palpable or believable enough to trigger the waterworks, and you need that to be thoroughly invested in the outcome.
The movie is a traditional formulaic chick flick. It’s for the Nicholas Sparks fans hungry for a romantic comedy/drama. It’s standard fare. Fine but forgettable.