A year or two ago, I went on a mission to watch all the available Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations. I wanted it to be a torture fest. What it turned out to be wasn’t half as bad as I’d expect. Maybe I grew numb or accustomed to it. Some of them weren’t so good but I managed to pull something from a good few of them. Its really not all that surprising, considering that I’m a romantic. My best friends know it, my husband knows it and it makes me highly tolerant of super sappy movies that people criticize. I acknowledge movie tropes and cliches but I don’t quite mind so much when its in a romance. That is just me. Nicholas Sparks is formulaic, I also acknowledge that. We’re finally at the next one continuing in this year’s (really sad) Valentine’s marathon (that I didn’t even bother to peg in the title of the few posts). We’re at The Best of Me. I really don’t even know what to expect for this one.
Let’s check it out! 🙂
The Best of Me (2014)
Director: Michael Hoffman
Cast: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato, Gerald McRaney, Sean Bridgers, Sebastian Arcelus
A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown. – IMDB
When I started up The Best of Me, it gave me a prompt to choose between the theatrical version and the “Tears of Joy” edition with alternate ending. I couldn’t help but laugh a little at it. I ended up watching the theatrical release and then going back to check out the alternate ending. I mean, its pretty obvious how it was going to go for both the endings. I’m going to be reviewing the theatrical release below but let me say that I’m a little disappointed by having the two endings. Nicholas Sparks adaptations were always formulaic, cheesy, sappy, cliche and anything you can peg onto it but you know what it has for itself. It owns up all that and I respect it for that. But, when you give me two endings, that is just trying to be a crowd pleaser when you know, people who don’t like these movies, won’t like it anyways, not just because its a happy or sad ending. Now that I have this rant off my chest, let’s move on!
When we look at Nicholas Sparks, you can’t help but wonder if he is running out of ideas. The Best of Me is kind of like The Notebook just a lot more natural. I’m on the record to not be the biggest fan of The Notebook. I feel like The Notebook isn’t really that natural of a romance. Its hard not to compare because The Best of Me takes the same route. We pan between the teen and the mature version that had to let go because of whatever reason and then meet again and heal and they are still actually in love with each other but circumstances provide hurdles for them to be together now. Either way, what I’m saying is that (nothing against Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) but The Best of Me is a smooth romance. It could be my bias of loving guys like Luke Bracey’s character Dawson, the quiet and mysterious type who just opens up to be the most genuine sort of guy but frustrating because he also has his troubles and makes the stupid decisions of letting go. Okay, its not that stupid. On terms of which being more emotionally-manipulative, I actually think The Notebook is since every single one of these gets a comment about how manipulative it is.
I really need to stop comparing the two. The Best of Me has a really amazing cast. I love all of them a lot, especially James Marsden. That man makes any movie better and he’s just so great. Him and Michelle Monaghan as Amanda had a crazy chemistry. Those longing gazes and the look. It works so well together. As much as I like the current rekindling of their romance, I think I actually liked the younger couple more. Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato playing young Dawson and Amanda respectively have this out of the world chemistry. It took me about two seconds to fall in love with young Dawson and they were just so sweet and cute and funny. You know, the typical teenage romance before things go awry and out of proportion and all dramatic-like. There are some pretty groundbreaking romance that just sweeps you away with its originality like In Your Eyes (review HERE) but most of us don’t live in a world where sci-fi rules our life so this is the simple person’s romance and as much as we all desire something different from romance and sure its sappy and all that but deep down, don’t you want to be with that guy who just really loves you. Its true though, when you find that right person, you do give them the best of you and that is what this is about. Dawson and Amanda gave each other the best of themselves in their first love when everything was about being happy and all that lovely fluttering butterflies bit before we realize what being hurt from heartbreak feels like and just how long it takes to heal from it. And its not even just the romance. The part I liked a lot was the supporting actor playing Tuck, an older man that takes in Dawson because he knew that he needed a home and someone to lead him in the right path and a chance of having a future.
I’m going to be honest here and say that when I watch Nicholas Sparks movies, its not about the story anymore. Its not even about the romantic-sappy dialogue. I sometimes even laugh at it a little. I watch it for the cast and their chemistry. No storyline beats A Walk to Remember (to me) and none has (so far) chemistry and striking a perfect balance between the two. The Best of Me actually doesn’t rank too low in the adaptations. I’d say my feelings for it are slightly above Safe Haven and The Lucky One, which is kind of pretty high on my list. I actually had moments of getting misty in this one because I grew to love the characters so much and its not even just Amanda and Dawson but even the supporting characters.
Overall, The Best of Me is a decent romance. You just need to know why you are going to see this and have the expectations what these movies embody. Nicholas Sparks stories iare formulaic as heck and its obvious. There’s even a little inconsistency between Amanda if that was a criticism there with her accent between being young and older self but you know what, this movie had chemistry that just exploded out of the characters. It gets a little melodramatic and some dialogue is sappy and cheesy but if you already know what to expect (like I did), this is a decent one. The Best of Me is not Sparks best adaptation but its also far from the worst. It created some wonderful characters and the cast was great with the script they had. Plus, it wasn’t just about romance, But then, I guess you have to be a little like me: a romantic and going into this with low expectations and ready to accept anything that happens. Point is, you know if you’re a person that likes this, if you don’t like Sparks, don’t bother with this one but if you do and tolerate them, then this one is pretty decent.
Have you seen The Best of Me? What do you think of James Marsden (and the rest of the cast)?
This Valentine’s Marathon hasn’t been quite plentiful but we’re wrapping up this weekend with the next Nicholas Sparks movie, The Longest Ride!
I won’t be doing The Choice until I get access to it eventually (but I’m not looking forward to it).
I’ll see if I can do something special on February 14th. I’m still thinking about it! 🙂
Happy Friday, my lovelies!