Nicholas Sparks is to romance what Adam Sandler is to comedy. Whenever you see their name on a project, chances are its not going to challenge the audience in the slightest. The film is just going to repeat the same old clichés and offer nothing new. The Choice is yet another Nicholas Sparks adaption where you can see every redundant plot point from a mile away. If you can’t get enough of these sappy love stories, then check your brain out at the box office and purchase a ticket. Personally, I’m all Sparked out.
Teresa Palmer plays Gabby, a whiny, fickle, shellfish, young woman. She lives next door to Benjamin Walker’s Travis, an obnoxious womanizer who sounds like one of the Duke boys. They don’t like each other at all, which means they’re destined to fall in love. It doesn’t matter that Gabby has a hansom, kind, understanding boyfriend played by Tom Welling from Smallville. Travis also has a sort-of girlfriend (Alexandra Daddario), who seems to pop up whenever it’s convenient.
After Gabby and Travis do the deed, they seem to completely forget that they have significant others. Gabby in particular handles the situation in a pretty asinine matter with no consideration for anyone else’s feelings. So basically, the lovers we’re supposed to root for are horrible people that are horrible to everyone else and are horrible to each other. This might actually work if The Choice was intended to be a dark comedy or a Shakespeare tragedy. For a Nicholas Sparks movie, though, something is clearly wrong when we sympathize more with the other boyfriend.
Since we don’t like or care about the main characters, it’s hard to be invested when Gabby gets into a car accident and slips into a comma. Oh yeah, because it wouldn’t be a Nicholas Sparks movie unless somebody’s life hangs in the balance. If you think that’s the only trope that’s recycled here, guess again. We of course get plenty of scenes where our lovers spend time by the lake, exchange letters, and receive advice from a wise father figure (Tom Wilkinson). Be sure to take a shot every time you see the sunset too!
In all fairness, the actors try their best with what they’re given to work with. Director Ross Katz, who’s worked on some great romances like Lost in Translation, also does what he can with this material. Unfortunately, nobody involved with The Choice is permitted to change up the Nicholas Sparks brand. Is it too much to ask for one of these movies to do something original? At least Safe Haven distinguished itself by going utterly insane in its final act. There’s absolutely nothing about this film that stands out, however. It’s just another Lifetime movie that somehow got a theatrical release. Seeing how Lifetime movies are free, you’re probably better off staying home.