Not The Best Of Sparks


            Nicholas Sparks, a man whose books seem to sell millions and whose movies rake in even more money. How can something that is so formulary and repetitive, continue to be so popular? Still every year a movie of his comes out, masses of couples flood to the theaters to get wrapped up in the carbon copy that his movies. Of course here I sit, writing another review on his movie in an attempt to find the good in his latest installment entitled The Best of Me. So here I go, giving you the 411 on my first movie review of the weekend.


Okay let’s face it, a Nicholas Sparks movie is all about crying one’s eyes out and getting caught up in the perfect vision of love that he makes. No surprise, this movie brings those components into the chemical mix. Fans will get caught in the roller coaster ride of kissing, giggling, hugging, and whatever else passes for romance. Like always, the relationship moves fast without too many hitches, a simple incident being blown over in a matter of seconds, like that’s real right? With the magic of the cinematic score, the passion is captured on screen, despite the fact that some adultery and cheating are occurring. While lost on emotionless robot like me, there were plenty of members in my theater that cooed in awe at the emotional display on screen.


As for the other emotions, well as is always the case it is a combination of sad and happy. A majority of this movie tends to bend towards the sadder side of things, with many incidents befalling our cast in the short 110 minutes. I give kudos to Sparks for integrating the hardships of his past into his writing, but his obsession with morbid outcomes and death are a little eye rolling for me. The Best of Me is again another movie where people die, often in predictable ways that somehow end up being good in the end. Realistic no? Inspirational/motivational, yes, because once again he manages to strike a chord that has you tearing up, getting goosebumps, or whatever reaction you have. I didn’t get too much of a response, but that’s because of two things: 1. It was predictable and things I see thirty minutes a way, I become stoic too 2. The unrealistic timing of all the things happening at once. Honestly, how drama like this isn’t seen as ridiculous is beyond me, but if you think this is real enough I encourage you to give science fiction a try.


Now to the story of this tale, which has very little twist and turn outside of the tear jerking sequences. This movie is predictable, the entire set of incidents pretty much are set up in the first half hour of the movie. The lead character Dawson (James Marsden) has some decent development, his bland and reserved nature explained to a decent extent that makes him the tragic hero. Of course some of his decisions and actions are a bit stupid, ill integrated, and frankly rushed at points. Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) was not the best character for this reviewer. Her back-story was sad, but she was a bit too pathetic, and needy in this film as she clung to her past. While I can relate to some of her issues, this wasn’t one of the strongest leads for me. In fact the older renditions of the characters bored me, the chemistry between Marsden and Monaghan very stiff and forced. Instead the entertaining part was the story told through the younger counterparts played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato. Spread among their older self’s lives, the past story is much more entertaining filled with not only better acting, but better plot points that had deeper emotions to them.  Overall though, the plot has a lot of similarities with his other works, almost as if Sparks is running out of creative twists to take the movies in.


The few factors that entertained me in this movie start with the character Tuck (Gerald McRaney), an old man who saves Dawson at the beginning. Tuck is the Yoda of this movie, a guide who provides valuable lessons with a nice sarcastic bluntness. His dialogue is simple at times, and delivered at just the right moment to maximize laughs. However, his quotes also pack a lot of emotional heat to it as well, designed and written in a form my own mentors have shared with me. He was a great character to tie everything together, and he had a lot of guts too. Second was the fact that the past and the present were interspersed. While I wished it had been done better, I always like to see a little mixing of past and present to build a better plot, though again it needs work. Finally the visual and audio moments are well put together, combined into a blend that packs the most power behind it.


Let’s wrap this up! The Best of Me was an okay addition to the library of Sparks dramas. Fans of Sparks are going to most likely love this installment, the simplistic romance and tear spurring moments playing the biggest part to their entertainment. For this reviewer, this was one of the lower quality installments in his movie.   The plot was too discombobulated, the characters one dimensional and bland, and the unrealistic series of unfortunate events happening at once offset me on this. A love story such as this is a good girls night out movie, but I suggest revisiting an older film of his and wait for this on Netflix.


My scores the Best of Me are:


Drama/Romance: 6.5

Movie Overall: 4.5


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