Breaking News: I have now watched all the Nicholas Sparks books that have been made into movies, so I need to update my list. Because my devoted fans need to know.
#11: Dear John
#10: Nights in Rodanthe
Bri was right about Nights in Rodanthe. Oof, it’s a rough movie. More than most Sparks adaptations, it skates by on the chemistry between Richard Gere and Diane Lane, but they each had some moments of really horrible acting. Mostly, it’s about a weekend tryst that gets built up in the characters’ minds as something better than it was. They were essentially talking right past each other most of the time.
A dog could have easily replaced either one of them. Oh wait, Diane Lane already did that movie.
I almost wanted Gere’s absence at the end to be because he wasn’t really all that into Diane Lane. But, alas, it had to be a tragic death.
#9: The Best of Me
The Best of Me is Nicholas Sparks running out of ideas (he’s written 18 novels in 17 years) and thinking, “how about I write a story that has the same pieces and narrative arc as The Notebook but is grittier.” Bam, The Best of Me. It’s a compelling story, and we already like it, but he loses points for creativity. He also took some shortcuts: let’s make her husband alcoholic and distant so we all root for her to cheat on him; let’s give her a line where she thinks it’s crazy for her high school boyfriend to still be in love with her 20 years later but then joke’s on her; let’s write a character like Walt Kowalski from Gran Torino who can play matchmaker (it’s Raymond Tusk!);
let’s introduce a weird element of fate so that the characters can feel tragedies in each other’s lives like some twins can!
That’s the face of sensing that your high school sweetheart is getting beaten to death by his horrible brothers.
[This is the part where I also readjust The Vow‘s position in the rankings. Is that fair? It’s my fucking blog post.]
#8: A Walk to Remember
#7: The Last Song
#6: Message in a Bottle
Message in a Bottle is Sleepless in Seattle without the fun and self-awareness. Robin Wright’s character is so watered down that she is only left with loneliness and a personality disorder that makes her want to usurp someone else’s love life.
She works as a researcher for a columnist at the Chicago Tribune, so she’s essentially an intern. And Robbie Coltrane, her boss, barks (like a dog) at his female researchers. We’re just waiting for HR to file the paperwork on that harassment claim.
Kevin Costner is a shell of a
human being L.L. Bean Boyfriend.
That’s the boat he’s building. By himself. With his own bare hands.
I hated the movie at first, but then I kind of loved it. After their weekend together, she doesn’t expect him to call (unlike Diane Lane). And when he comes to visit, it’s awkward and they don’t know what their relationship is. But then they have sex to this song:
There was just so much estrogen that went into the production of that scene, it made my ovaries hurt. I would have preferred this:
But I’m mentally adding Message in a Bottle to my list of media items to discuss when–inspired by Christina’s take on Ally McBeal–I someday write a blog post about 1998 (the book came out in 98 and the movie in 99).
#5: Safe Haven
#4: The Vow
The Vow stands out from most Nicholas Sparks stories in many respects, perhaps because it’s based on a true story. It takes place in Chicago (the idyllic rural South, usually North Carolina, features as a character in his other works), and there’s no heartstring-pulling death in the end. It’s a compelling story–a man who wants his wife to remember him/fall in love with him again–and I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching it this week.
But it is still hard for me to buy Channing Tatum as an edgy, artsy music producer. The hat doesn’t help.
#3: The Lucky One
#2: The Longest Ride
#1: The Notebook
And now I have wasted almost a 24 hours of my life watching Nicholas Sparks films. Who’s up for seeing the next one with me in February?