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.

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Netflix A-Z: Jenny’s Wedding (2015)

This week’s Netflix A-Z is for J! I ended up choosing Jenny’s Wedding!

Before my blogging days (or maybe I was but before TV Binge days), I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy and loved Katherine Heigl, even if her character didn’t really work that well and eventually just left the show. Then she did a really fun 27 Dresses. You can disagree all you want but I liked it a lot plus there’s James Marsden. I don’t have reason why I like rom-coms anymore. Jenny’s Wedding’s cover looks a lot like Bride Wars but this one is not about the same thing. Oh, and I like Alexis Bledel because of Sisterhood of Travelling Pants. I didn’t see any Gilmore Girls yet (which I probably should eventually.) Reasons for why Jenny’s Wedding is on my Netflix list.

Let’s check it out!

Jenny’s Wedding (2015)

Jenny's Wedding

Director: Mary Agnes Donoghue

Cast: Katherine Heigl, Alexis Bledel, Tom Wilkinson, Linda Emond, Grace Gummer

Jenny Farrell has led an openly gay life – except with her conventional family. When she finally decides to start a family and marry the woman they thought was just her roommate, the small, safe world the Farrell’s inhabited changes forever. They are left with a simple and difficult choice – either change with it or drown.-IMDB

When you look at Jenny’s Wedding’s ratings online, its really not good. You might even turn away from it. However, Jenny’s Wedding is worth something, even if its a courageous coming out story.  Jenny’s Wedding does do a good job at showing the potential hurdles of coming out. Its never easy to live in a lie especially to family who are the people someone loves the most. Jenny’s Wedding does a good job at showing the journey of not only Katherine Heigl’s character Jenny breaking free from those lies and confronting her family and showing the opposite side of her parents and siblings trying to decide if they can accept it and still see her for the person she had always been. While that is the dominant story, Jenny’s Wedding has a little more simply about honesty, family and being true to yourself but also realizing that what you assume of others may not be true just like when others assume something of you.

Jenny's Wedding

The intentions of Jenny’s Wedding is commendable. However, the one downfall that made me resist liking it more was that Jenny is courageous but at a certain point, in a very frustrating way. She’s a grown-up woman who decides to take this huge step to marry the woman she loves impulsively after being inspired by her father’s words but she never takes into consideration of how this sudden news that doesn’t even give them time to warm up to is thrown at them with somewhat of an ultimatum. The frenzy that is causes between each member of her family brings out something different. One of the scenes with the most impact scenes is when she gives her dad (played by Tom Wilkinson) a huge lecture about taking her for who she is or leaving it.  It shows how great of an actor Tom Wilkinson is because you can see the devastation and shock on his face even though he doesn’t say much. In the end, you realize that she midjudged him all along. It is moments like these that make us feel frustrated about Jenny’s character but it feels deliberate to allow to see that no one here is perfect and this is a difficult and conflicting situation for both sides.

Jenny's Wedding

On the other hand, Jenny’s Wedding is an independent drama. One of the enjoyable choices are the cast and the personalities they have. Some of the best parts here portray their confusion of not being able to grasp what just happened and in that process, everyone shows a quirky silly side as they struggle. For example, the mom played by Linda Emond is quite adorable when she cares but doesn’t know how to but at the same time, while she doesn’t know what she is doing, people have already assumed her actions and she will ask them back what she is doing. And then there’s Grace Gummer who plays Jenny’s sister who looks at her marriage, Jenny’s happiness and relates it to the grass in her yard and obsesses over it. These are at times silly moments and to some, it may even.be unnecessary but it also made it feel more objective to see that everyone takes a little something different away from the same scenario, just like real life.

Jenny’s Wedding isn’t long but it still won’t  be for everyone. It might sit in the convoluted territory at times or it might feel like not a lot is going on. It might even watch our characters in silence or talk in other parts. While it is an indie drama about coming out, there is still much to learn from it. The overall movie is average: harmless and has good intentions. If this is your type of movie, check it out.

Next up is K! That might be after October. I’m still deciding 😉