Director: Ross Katz
Run Time: 1h 51m
The Choice is cheesy, cliché, and completely unoriginal. Yet…I did not hate it.
Medical student, Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), moves away from the city and all its distractions. Most notably her doctor boyfriend, Ryan (Tom Welling). Gabby’s neighbor by the lake is the handsome chick magnet, Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker). At first the two don’t get along, but this is a Sparks novel so of course they fall in love and have a steamy affair while Ryan is conveniently out of town for a few weeks. Travis is convinced he’s found the woman to end his bachelor life but Gabby still has Ryan. She has a “choice” before her, and her decision will alter another major crisis she’ll face later in life.
Seriously. This movie is ridiculous. The dialogue, the overly convenient plot points, and the forced meet-cute between our love birds should all point to a hellish failure. But somehow I found myself enjoying this movie for what it was.
I won’t dwell on what it does wrong. We all know Mr. Sparks. If you’ve seen his earlier film adaptations, you know he is capable of greatness. Unfortunately his more recent works are all cut from the same rigid cloth and you will know the ending before the opening credits finish. The Choice isn’t so different. I could point out any number of similarities to Sparks’ other stories, good and bad.
Instead I want to draw attention to the bits that kept my interest. They are few but they were enough to keep me from hating The Choice.
Travis Shaw is a lovable character. He’s stubborn, sarcastic, and he talks to his dog–that he rescued when someone brought him in to his veterinary clinic a few months ago. (Behold the cliché-ridden hero…) His interactions with Gabby felt more realistic than other Sparks lovers because it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I can’t give Gabby much credit because her character is the same flighty whine fest that we’ve met before, but when Travis is around she becomes quite tolerable.
I can’t decide if I liked Travis so much for just his character, or if Benjamin Walker had a lot to do with it. This is only the third movie of his I’ve seen, and neither of the others was particularly good. And even though The Choice isn’t a masterpiece, Walker did an incredible job. He was by far the best part of this movie for me. He can certainly act. Everyone had some pretty awful dialogue but Walker found a way to make his lines at least feel natural.
This last bit of praise is totally stupid and has nothing to do with the movie itself but I still have to point it out. If you noticed the poster at the top of this post you’ll see that it shares minimal similarities to most of Sparks’ other films. The main characters aren’t looking at one another, they aren’t almost kissing, they aren’t looking all solemn and love-struck, there isn’t a soft sunbeam bursting through their sexual tension… No. Instead they are hanging out, wearing sunglasses and laughing at the fact that Travis probably just farted and tried to blame it on the dog (sitting just out of the picture). That’s true love, my friends. Anyway, if you need some context just have a look at this little mashup:
The point is, The Choice is far from perfect. You can still enjoy it and it has everything to do with the leading man. If you’re a Sparks fan you’ll like it. If not, just get drunk and lonely and you’ll think it’s a work of art. Obviously wait until it’s rentable though.
Everyone knows The Notebook is the best Nicholas Sparks adaptation, but I’ve already used it as an alternative offering before. So instead I’ll suggest my second favorite and tell you to go watch A Walk to Remember.