Nicholas Sparks is somewhat infamous for his gushy mom pleasing novels that center around love and relationship development. They escape the stigma of romance novels by somewhat frequently breaking the rule of the happy ending. If I sound bitter about that, it's because I am. I find that tragedy is not synonymous with profound meaning, and the idea that a piece of fiction becomes "literature" only by being depressing is the height of discouraging.
Nevertheless, I have read (and to some extent enjoyed) four of his novels, although it was years ago and long before I started reviewing books. And, I'm kind of ashamed to say this, but I really like most of these movies. Yeah, I know. I'm not sure what's wrong with me, either. So, anyway, here we go: snippet review of all seven movies currently available on DVD, in the order of their release.
Message in a Bottle (1999)The plot of this movie is as utterly improbable as it is depressing.Theresa, the heroine, finds a message in a bottle while she's jogging on a beach. It's a love letter, and finding it makes her believe in love again. She get's caught up in the mystery of finding the letter's author. And then she does. And they fall in love. Because of course they do. I've never found this movie appealing. Not only does the romance not work for me (I'm not a huge fan of widow stories), but it ends on an unrelentingly hopeless note. So, overall, it's not one that I recommend.
A Walk to Remember (2002)Now this one, this movie, is one of my all time favorite love stories. Teenage bad boy Landon falls in love with the preacher's daughter, Jamie. Through her, he learns about faith, compassion, and what it means to give your heart to someone entirely. It's young love, opposites attraction, redemption, and hope in the face of death--all things that I love in a romance. The fact that it's sad is actually okay, in this case. This is one to watch when you want to cry a bit.
The Notebook (2004)Every woman I talk to likes this movie at least a little, and for good reason. It's the story of a first love and forbidden love that turns into last love. People think of it as said, because it deals with dimension and growing old and passing on, but in my mind it's the happiest ending I can imagine in the harsh Nicholas Sparks world. These two people get a whole life together, and their story is epic. Its a happy tears sort of movie.
Nights In Rodanthe (2008)Don't remember this one? Yeah, no one really does. This is a movie that's definitely meant for the older generation, and I don't think even they like it that much. It's a romance between two disillusioned older people who both have strained relationships with their adult children. Adrienne, the heroine, is taking care of an inn for her friend and Paul, the hero, is in town because he's being sued. Much like Message in a Bottle, there are few or no uplifting parts to balance out the tragedy, so it doesn't leave you feeling better about humanity. It also suffers from serious pacing issues. I don't recommend it.
Dear John (2010)Okay, so this is one of two that I had to watch specifically for this post, because I hadn't seen it yet. Because based on what I knew of the plot, I thought I wouldn't like it. Oh, my God, this was a terrible movie. So, yeah, the plot is that John is a soldier and he falls in love with Savannah, who agrees to wait for him, and they write letters. But then 9/11 happens and he re-enlists and she starts to get understandably antsy, until ultimately she sends him the dreaded break-up letter. Aside from the fact that there is nothing about that core plot that appeals to me, I just didn't feel any sort of romantic vibe from this movie. John and Savannah have little chemistry to speak of, so I had trouble buying their relationship to begin with. Couple that with very serious pacing issues, selfish decisions, and a total lack of an ending, and I'm left wondering why on earth people like this movie. I really don't recommend this one.
The Last Song (2010)This was the other one that I had to watch for the first time in order to write this post, and I expected to like it less than Dear John. You know what though? It's not that bad. No, I mean, it's flawed. Miley Cyrus is not a great actress, and she's not right for the part, and her speaking voice is extremely grating. I could buy her as a snotty teenager, but I had trouble cheering her on as a romantic lead. Nevertheless, the story kind of got to me. I could really appreciate the character development and the relationship development between Ronnie, our erstwhile heroine, and everyone else in the movie--from her father, to little brother, to her boyfriend Will. I found myself imagining the story with someone else in Miley's place, and I'm forced to say that I like it a lot. So, would I recommend it? Yeah, actually, I would--if you like that kind of thing.
The Lucky One (2012)here. I did like this one. It's not the most profound, and Zach Efron is just okay as an actor, but it's a more complete and appealing story than, say, Dear John.
I haven't yet made plans to see Safe Haven, which came out on Valentines Day, but I'm sure I will eventually. This is one of those odd fascinations that I feel compelled to see through. But that's it for now, folks. Go watch a good movie, share your comments, and have a happy day!