Archives for posts with tag: Nicholas Sparks

Grade B-

From Nicholas Sparks’ second novel, “A Walk To Remember” pairs Mandy Moore and Shane West as high school teens at opposite ends of everything.   Moore plays a bible carrying sweetheart who is basically a saint with an amazing singing voice, while West plays a jackass who is part of the cool crowd.  Neither of them has much in common, but a prank pulled by West causes an accident that forces West to do community service.  One such service is to take part in a school play…playing the lead.   Huh, what?  West has no interest in playing lead, nor does he have any experience in acting; but the drama teacher gives him the male lead anyway because…well, because the screenwriter and director want West and Moore to have a reason to spend lots of time together, and they couldn’t be bothered with writing a more plausible reason, so we just have to accept that shenanigan.

So anyway…Moore/West have to study their lines together and guess what?  West starts to like Moore, despite her being all goody goody and wearing weird clothes and the same sweater…well, to be fair, Moore is beautiful and is such a nice person and honest and intelligent — traits that West is hard pressed to find in his cool group.   Moore’s portrayal of her character is absolutely on the money, very believable and extremely likeable; and it is Moore who saves this movie from being a cheese fest and catapults it to an entertaining, heartwarming rom/com/drama.

Enough of me gushing over Moore’s performance.   West/Moore’s romance of course hits the obvious bumps: the cool kids hate her; the father hates West; West feels alienated by his cool friends, etc.  But the biggest bump is when Moore reveals her secret to West.  This revelation is my most memorable, movie moment, which I will not spoil; but fans of Sparks will probably guess the secret.

For the average moviegoer, “A Walk To Remember” will be a bit too corny and syrupy for their tastes; but for rom/com/drama fans, this is one of the better ones, and Mandy Moore’s performance has almost everything to do with it.

— M

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Grade C –

Another offering by Nicholas Sparks, “The Last Song” stars Miley Cyrus as a teen girl who, along with her younger brother, is sent to live with her estranged father (played by Greg Kinnear) for the summer.  And now, for the cliches: Cyrus has a huge attitude because she hates her father for divorcing her mom; Kinnear is the nice, protective father who is desperate to reconnect with his daughter…and he has a secret that will alter the lives of his children forever; the son is a smart-ass who is insightful for his age; Cyrus, despite her anger issues and raggedy looks, will attract the local, young stud (played by Liam Hemsworth); Hemsworth turns out to be more than a pretty face — he is a guy with a heart of gold, and he is looking for “the one”; Cyrus can’t stand Hemsworth — or so she pretends — then starts to like him…then hates him again for withholding a secret from her that affects her father (who she used to hate but now kind of likes)…then likes Hemsworth again because she forgives him and she really really likes him and…well, you get the idea.

The worst things about “The Last Song” are the numerous cliches mentioned above, Cyrus’ lack of serious acting skills, the lack of onscreen chemistry between Cyrus/Hemsworth, and the forced, goofball scenes that are supposed to make the audience go ga-ga for these two young lovers.  The “meet cute” part isn’t cute at all, it is corny as hell and made me cringe that someone could write something so bad for a Hollywood movie.  Then there is the actor who plays the young son: his constant, constipation face is both funny and annoying.  Add the tears and the snot during the dramatic moments and it’s just all too much.

Saving this movie from a much lower grade is Kinnear’s very good acting.  It’s natural, subtle in most cases, and very believable.  Hell, he was my favorite character.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Last Song” is when Kinnear’s secret is revealed.  Sparks fans won’t be shocked as they know how this writer operates.

So…do I recommend this movie to Sparks fans?  Yes, because I know that fans of Nicholas Sparks will want to gobble up anything he writes, even if many say it is a substandard piece of work.  Fans will always need to watch for themselves.  So, watch “The Last Song,” and see for yourself.  Everybody else, there are much better rom-com/dramas out there.

— M

 

Grade C +

The latest movie adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, “The Choice” is about two people (played by Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer) who seem to be of differing personalities who meet cute, start a romance, and one is going to make a choice that will affect their lives forever.

So let me do a quick break down of this movie.  Despite some heavy drama thrown around during the second and third acts, “The Choice” is basically a romantic comedy.  As such, the couple “meet cute,” meaning they meet in a cute, funny, and interesting way.  This important element is catastrophically bad in “The Choice.”  I almost cringed at the horrible dialogue when Walker and Palmer first met.  Fortunately the dialogue improved somewhat in their subsequent meetings, although still at the level below what is expected of a good screenwriter.

Now to the second act, where things really start to get interesting.  The romance and drama get amped up, and most of the corny dialogue is replaced with slightly more serious and believable fare.  But all this time, I keep thinking of the lack of chemistry between the two leads — a crucial part of any movie, especially that of a rom-com — and how Walker was miscast as the male lead.  Another big strike against this movie; but as the movie goes on I started focusing more on the characters instead of how the actors looked together.  Saved by the bell here.

Then there’s the third act, which is mostly about the choice one of the leads has to make.  In order to not spoil the movie, I won’t mention anything more other than it is a Nicholas Sparks story, so prepare to have your emotions played with.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Choice” is the scene when Walker professes his love for Palmer, telling her in his own way that he wants to be with her forever.  This is the most dramatic and authentic part of the movie, filled with raw emotion without artificial sweeteners or cornball dialogue.

Sparks fans will most likely have a kinder attitude to “The Choice.”  But fans of great rom-coms will be disappointed, but still mildly entertained.

— M

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