by George Wolf
Just when I thought all Nicholas Sparks movies were churned out of the Sap-o-matic 5000 supercomputer, chocked full of the same melodramatic plot devices played out by interchangeable characters, along comes The Choice to prove me wrong.
Oh sure, it’s still built around a dreamy Southern setting full of beautiful white people getting caught in the rain and kept apart by tragedy, and there’s flashback storytelling, cheating that’s really okay and contrivance out the wazoo, but when the credits finally rolled, one thing was missing.
Where was the are-they-really-going-there shameless plot twist? No wise friend who’s really been dead all this time? No children needing an organ from an old love who was nice enough to die at the perfect time?
Other than that , though, same old dreck.
Travis (Benjamin Walker, Abe in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) narrates, and takes us back seven years to when he first met Gabby (Teresa Palmer from Warm Bodies). She moved in next door to Travis’s waterfront South Carolina place, and of course had to bother him in the middle of the night so he could come to the door half dressed.
The spark was lit, and Gabby’s boyfriend Ryan (Tom Welling, Superman from TV’s Smallville) was nice enough to leave town for a few weeks so Travis and Gabby could use her dining room table in a way that I’m pretty sure voided the warranty.
Director Ross Katz dutifully checks the boxes next to rain, tragedy, empty philosophizing while gazing at the sky, plus plenty of pretty scenery.
And then there’s the dialog.
Between Sparks’ source novel and writer Bryan Sipe’s adapted script, there may not be a single conversation in the entire film that rings true. Even the great Tom Wilkinson, showing up as Travis’s father, can’t make these lines seem like something real humans might say.
Then again, they’re not humans, they’re Ken and Barbie dolls in the latest Nicholas Sparks playset.