I just looked and this is the seventh Nicholas Sparks’ movie I’ve reviewed. How have I survived? And t’s not like I’ve been enlightened. They all run together into a pulsing morass of sweet tea and shirtless, rain-soaked beefcake and overwrought melodrama. There’s the one with a ghost — that one’s pretty weird. There’s the one with Miley Cyrus where she talks to a raccoon. I think Cyclops is in one, and then Lasse Hallstrom made a couple that weren’t the worst films ever. One even had Channing Tatum before I started liking him. That’s about all I’ve culled from this seven-fold slog.
About the only thing special about the latest Sparksian effort, The Choice, is that I may not recall anything about it in the future. It’s probably the worst of the seven so far, which, of course, is really saying something. Worst in the sense that it’s the most tedious and — even for Sparks — formulaic of these things so far. Get this: A hunky veterinarian Travis (Benjamin Walker, In the Heart of the Sea), who is a sort of archetypical Sparks ubermensch with his gentle smile and sculpted abs, meets cute with his neighbor Gabby (Teresa Palmer, Warm Bodies), another blonde-haired, goodhearted Sparks cliche. But she has a boyfriend (Tom Welling, The Fog), so things are slow to percolate, but love — and the script — say otherwise, and soon the two are making out in the kitchenette and falling head over heels for each other.
Then we get to part-two of Sparks’ usual recipe: the melodrama. This one involves a car wreck and a tearful Travis, as we get to the “choice” of the title. Spoiler: Love rules the day in the end, however, so no worries there. That’s really it. The problems, of course, are numerous. There’s no chemistry between Walker, who shows up in every scene with a furrowed brow and Palmer, who’s mostly fine but doesn’t do much to warrant all this interest. There are a lot of beaches and summer fun and folksy nonsense in the manner we all expect from these efforts. It’s especially tedious this seventh time around, perhaps because these movies have hit rock bottom as far as talent goes.
This isn’t exactly a murderers row here. I mean, they weren’t good movies, but at least the films Hallstrom helmed had a sense of style, pace and class, even when they were going off the rails in a storm of incredulity. The Choice has none of this, having replaced it with a noxious helping of schmaltz. There’s nothing surprising, entertaining or memorable here. Just a lot of people with perfect teeth and salon quality hair, the kind of characters I find impossible to relate to, no matter how dire and tragic their love story is supposed to play. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues.