Sunday Lists: Nicholas Sparks Adaptations Best to Worst

Its Valentine’s Marathon season here so it makes sense to do a romantic themed list post. A few years ago I reviewed the Nicholas Sparks adaptation films and then proceeded in the next few years catching up as the newer films wer released and now I have watched all of them so it seems like a good idea to rank them from best to worst.

I know these films are pretty formulaic and get hates on a lot but somehow the romantic in me who used to read Nicholas Sparks novels has a rather higher tolerance than most for these films. With that said, here are my rankings from best to worst!

1. A Walk to Remember (review)

a walk to remember

A Walk to Remember is hands down the best Nicholas Sparks novel that I read and then the movie delivered with the believable roles by Mandy Moore and Shane West. Its sweet and cute and so very heartfelt and for all those reasons, this movie is great and surpasses what any of the other adaptations were able to achieve.

2. The Longest Ride (review)

The longest ride

Call this a bit of a bias. The Longest Ride gets a lot of points for having these two leads. Brit Robertson and Scott Eastwood are two incredible actors and with that said, I thought that their chemistry is fantastic here and the story with the rodeo and everything fits well together here. I was invested into their romance and it ticked all the boxes I liked to see in a romance.

3. The Best of Me (review)

the best of me

I’m going to be honest that this choice and the next is fairly neck to neck. The Best of Me scores a little higher very much thanks to how they decided to structure the story here. Plus Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden is really nice to watch here. The chemistry works with the parallel of the older and young couple here and it just works pretty well.

4. The Choice (review)

the choice

The Choice falls into the 4th spot. To be honest, I actually enjoy rewatching this one quite a bit. Some factors here is that it has nice ending in comparison to the different varying bittersweet endings in the other movies. There are a great many scenes that I love about this one that is a lot of fun to watch mostly because there are some funny moments here and mixed in with some nice romantic ones. The supporting characters and the side stories here also work well here. There are some frustrating moments but my main issue on why this falls short from the previous one because of the final section which felt forced to be longer. Perhaps I am missing the point but it just didn’t work too well for me.

5. The Notebook (review)

the notebook

For many people, The Notebook is a phenomenal and possibly the adaptation that works the best for Nicholas Sparks adaptations. However, its never been particularly outstanding to me. The only story I love the most is the elderly couple and the ending which is very memorable. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are very good. Its no doubt that The Notebook is well done and very romantic and for that it gets into the top 5.

6. Message in a Bottle (review)

message in a bottle

The first Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Message in a Bottle falls in the 7th spot. My deal with this one is that while it is a pretty good romantic story however also shows off the nature of how Sparks stories are generally structured. Its really a decent one and the main credit goes to Kevin Costner and Robin Wright but then theres always been something that holds me back from going back to watch this one.

7. Safe Haven (review)

As we start heading out of the Top 5, Safe Haven just misses because its chemistry works great and lots of elements work however, as great as Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel works here and theres more than enough cheesy romantic lines to go around, the secret works well enough as the danger element but the twist element here just feels so incredibly out of the blue that is too random for myself and works less and less every time I think about it.

8. Dear John (review)

And then we get to Dear John. Channing Tatum back when this was released was in this cookie cutter roles and for that, I made fun of it so much. While I get the story here and I like the chemistry between Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried. The book worked so much better than this adaptation and because of that, it was disappointing and plus, not a big fan of this ending.

9. The Lucky One (review)

I like Taylor Schilling okay from Orange is the New Black (less and less with every season) and Zac Efron is okay as well in my book. And because of that, I remember liking The Lucky One but remember absolutely nothing about this film except maybe some dog training backplot. For its forgettable story, its bagged a lower spot.

10. Nights in Rodanthe (review)

nights in rodanthe

And then we start hitting the last two. Nights of Rodanthe honestly is just not my cup of tea. I have no problem with Diane Lane or Richard Gere. With what they have, its charming to watch but this movie is just fairly boring. It is as simple as that.

11. The Last Song (review)

the last song

The Last Song is the worst of the Nicholas Sparks adaptations. It really has to do with the young cast here that I didn’t enjoy. I liked the father daughter story here more than the romance and the latter has a lot of focus.

Thats it for this best to worst list! How would your rankings be different from mine?

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Valentine’s Marathon: The Choice (2016)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is the annual Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation visit to stay on track and up to date with this. What started off as something that I thought would be torturous actually wasn’t as bad. A ton of you are going to disagree with me. I know already. Every year I post one of these, most people hate these Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations and would just like them to stop. While I can see where everyone is coming from, I actually don’t mind them at all, except for The Last Song…I really don’t like that one. But can you believe, The Choice is the 10th Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation? But from what I’ve read, this is the last movie adaptation.

Let’s check it out!

The Choice (2016)

The Choice

Director: Ross Katz

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling

Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. – IMDB

Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula. Its also this formula that really drives non-fans away from it, in my opinion. There’s always lovers who meet under less than desirable circumstances who find a way to be together then some disapproving factor drives them apart and then they somehow find the strength to reunite. Some times, they are able to be together and sometimes, other things will keep them apart (ex. sickness, death, bad timing, etc). You get my drift, right? Whenever I review one of these movies, I think its important to push away that formula. Think about the factors they put together from the characters to their chemistry (a big one for romance) and the supporting roles and what it does, maybe even the setting. The formula won’t change, we all know that and if it does, like the first time I saw a character survive the ordeal without some bittersweet twist, I was actually pleasantly surprised. So we’re going to do this for The Choice, okay? It sounds stupid to brush the story aside but that isn’t exactly what I’m doing, just you know glazing over the familiarity and looking more at how it carries itself.

The Choice

The Choice is not my favorite Nicholas Sparks adaptation. In fact, I don’t think A Walk to Remember has ever been beaten in my guilty pleasure romance movies. However, The Choice does also give us two very cute characters. There are some supporting characters that could’ve done with a little more development but still had its purpose. The setting itself is beautiful and the chemistry was done quite well. The story could have been delivered a little better and probably the run time could’ve been shorter as well to make it more compact. The Choice isn’t anything great to the movie adaptations however, there is one thing that I liked a lot about it other than the beautiful setting making me want to seek it all out for myself but our two main characters. There are very familiar mechanics they use, like setting up the story in a way that we’re at a certain point and then recounting the events and then getting to the present and continuing on from there to the conclusion. I can’t say its particularly useful to do it like this but its not a bad way for it to unfold.

The Choice

The Choice’s primary strength is its couple, Gabby and Travis played by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker respectively. Like I mentioned before, it didn’t really hit it off for me right away but in the interaction that Gabby and Travis has in their bickering, they start to grow a little (for me at least). Teresa Palmer’s character seemed to work out better for me but then there’s always a question of judgement and passion. Nicholas Sparks likes to embrace the somewhat “forbidden” love type of thing. Our characters need to have courage and they need to feel some security. In this case, the point of most of the story is Travis’s character not fighting for something he loves and always taking the easy route even if it means heartbreak and being lonely. Up till that point, the story still kind of worked because the message worked for me. However, the third act diving into a dramatic twist somewhat seems a little forced. It does also talk about guilt and holding on and fighting and believing but in many ways, the way it unfolds seems a little manipulative, I guess. I can forgive most of it but just saying that it would objectively be in that area to evoke some sort of sentiment and its where we are tested on how deeply we feel for this couple (which for me, wasn’t a whole lot) whereas, the idea of what is going on about churning up the thoughts of whether to let someone go is probably the bigger question here that really gets emotional. Probably because I’ve been in a relatable situation that it hit me a little harder than it probably would.

The Choice

The Choice however does have some other familiar faces in the supporting role. We have Maggie Grace as Steph, the sister of Travis who really is his guiding light of logic. She sees more about Gabby and her impact on Travis and how he actually feels, just like a close friend would be normally. We have an ex-girlfriend (or something) played by Alexandra Daddario who really doesn’t ever build up to much but to eventually tell Travis something important that encourages him. Tom Wilkinson plays as Travis’s father who in the second half probably understands more about what he is going through than others would. Most of these supporting roles are there for their one moment that really builds a connection or enlightens our character. These characters are also usually expected in these adaptations.

Overall, The Choice works okay for me. Its not my favorite but it is also far from the worst one out of the ten Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The charming characters of Gabby and Travis may get me to revisit it eventually. There are however many moments where it does fall flat, even if you look past the formulaic plot. The supporting characters are weak and could probably be fleshed out more. The story itself drags much longer than it needs. The chemistry between the characters are a little rushed in the first place so never quite meet the potential even if there are some good moments there. There are issues with this one but I’m pretty forgiving on these adaptations so I can see things that can redeem it. However, its not going to work for people who has never quite enjoyed any of them. If thats the case, you might probably not want to start here.