Travis Parker (Benjamin Walker) is a charming, smooth-talking vet who meets his new neighbor, the attractive yet slightly insufferable Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), after her dog is knocked up by his. Naturally, he instantly falls in love with her the very second he lays eyes on her.
Don’t question it. That’s how love works.
Even though Gabby’s in a steady relationship with local doctor Ryan McCarthy (Tom Welling), that ain’t gonna stop Travis from making a move. Does anyone stop from doing so? Well, no; in fact, his sister Stephanie (Maggie Grace) is twice as convinced and twice as crazy in thinking that this woman is destined to be Travis’s wife.
So eventually Travis’s lecherous ways overcome Gabby and they have a fling together while Ryan is out of town helping with the opening of a new hospital in Atlanta. Good for Gabby too, ’cause that jerk-face Ryan seems like a nice guy, with a comfy job and never once gives the impression that he’d ever do anything to hurt her.
That son of a bitch has it coming!
So Travis and Gabby get married, have kids and share a wonderful life together, one that is based on the sturdy foundation of adultery.
And then, of course, Nicholas Sparks digs up into the far reaches of his ass and pulls out a stunning third-act miracle that would baffle even God Almighty himself.
The Choice reminds me of the story of King David and Bathsheba. For those that don’t know of the Biblical account, David, like Travis, fell deep and hard for Bathsheba one night as she was showering, while his soldiers were out fighting a battle that he should’ve been fighting with them. Using his considerable charm and power as king, he wooed the hell out of that woman and slept with her.
Like Gabby, Bathsheba too was already taken by a man, who like Dr. Ryan, was a pretty swell guy, a solider for David’s army even. But she must’ve been hotter than the sun, ’cause that would explain why a man who was known as a “man after God’s own heart” would go on to do this…
Bathsheba didn’t have any knocked up dogs or anything, but she got knocked up from her and the king’s minor indiscretion, which would then lead to a very, very, very big indiscretion when David moved Uriah, Bathsheba’s man, up to the frontline of the battle… where he was killed instantly.
And boy, would God punish David with a mighty vengeance, a mighty vengeance almost as harsh as the punishment this film inflicted on me.
The newborn child became ill and died. Don’t worry, though, ’cause David had other kids that were still alive and well, and soon about to make their daddy’s life an utter, living hell. The oldest, Amnon, had the hots for his half-sister Tamar and he raped her when she, for whatever reason, refused to put out for him. In retaliation, her brother Absalom murdered Amnon, not so much in defense of his sister, but ’cause he was an arrogant prick who wanted to be king, and after successfully overthrowing his father’s kingdom, he was then successfully and quite brutally executed by his father’s soldiers.
It’s absolutely horrifying and tragic… yet still ten times more feel-good and romantic than Nicholas Sparks’s newest crime against humanity, The Choice.
At this point, now however the hell many Nicholas Sparks adaptations we’ve gotten so far, I don’t even know what there is to review here. Why the hell am I reviewing this? The Sparks formula is so predictable even Stevie Wonder could map out every single cutesy little romantic beat from beginning to end. Well, at least until the very end when the good ole Sparky whips out some crazy-ass ending where someone either dies or, in one particular case, should be declared clinically insane. See if you can notice the trend… aside from all those damn kissing posters.
- Message in a Bottle – Kevin Costner falls in love with Princess Buttercup. He then, later on, goes out to sea and dies in a storm.
- A Walk to Remember – Mandy Moore has cancer. That ending should be obvious.
- The Notebook – Love can do anything such as taking two lovers “away together”. In non bull shit speak, that means they died together. Even that bitch Rose was smart enough to save herself and let Jack freeze to death in the Atlantic (admittedly, this film is the best of the Sparks adaptations, thanks solely to the cast, but c’mon, it’s still pretty manipulative).
- Nights in Rodanthe – Richard Gere is killed by a mudslide
- Dear John – That kid from E.T. has cancer (refer back to A Walk to Remember).
- The Last Song – Greg Kinnear has can – are you fucking kidding me?!
- Safe Haven – No one dies… but Julianne Hough does talk to someone that is dead, and this isn’t The Sixth Sense, so she’s clearly nuts.
- The Best of Me – James Marsden is shot dead. Thankfully, he’s the perfect donor match for the love of his life’s kid who needs a heart transplant. So I guess you could say… even in death, he’ll always be near her… or whatever.
- The Longest Ride – Hawkeye Pierce dies, but for once, his death is excusable ’cause his character is like old as shit.
So yeah, Nicholas Sparks is a sadist, as am I, ’cause I sit through every one of films so you don’t have to. And oddly enough, I now look forward to them. Yes, this is no longer sheepish little me sneaking up to the ticket counter and muttering “one for Safe Haven” – oh, no. I now buy my ticket and proudly walk to my seat with the same shit-eating grin as I had walking out of that “I see dead people!” turd-fest ’cause I know I’m gonna get spoon-fed a shameless amount of saccharine horse shit.
And once again, Sparks doesn’t disappoint… until the ending.
Yes, that ending which is the sole criticism I’m gonna bring up. I don’t need to bring up any of the other criticisms ’cause – hell you know the others already. Overly quaint townsfolk? Check. A spite-filled meet-cute turned into love that’s meant to last forever and ever and ever? Check. Kissing in the rain? Check. Trite sweet nothings that would make even Hallmark gag in disgust? Check. Tragic accident? Check.
SPOILER ALERTS: So what about the ending? Well, at some point around the fourth or fifth time I was checking my phone, ’cause I do that a lot during these kind of movies, I figured it was near the end and Travis was finally gonna pull the plug on his wife (if you’ve seen the trailer, you know she’s involved in a fatal car accident and put on life support, hence the title, The Choice). Then after his dog finds some wind chime of hers and it starts dinging like crazy in the wind while he’s in deep thought, it hit me that Sparks probably whipped out some cheat codes and was about to perform a miracle. Lo and behold, Travis shows up at the hospital and there’s his wife, alive and well, and beaming with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen, as if her body wasn’t beaten to shit by an oncoming truck smashing into the driver’s side of her car.
And that’s when I realized that I just spent nearly two fucking hours of my life watching no one get to make any choices, making The “Choice” the most deceptively-titled film of 2016. See, killing off main characters ain’t anything new for Saint Nick, but he’s got a talented cast (Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Grace – all apparently a lot more desperate for a paycheck than I would’ve figured) and a director, Ross Katz, who did a solid job last year with the Nick Kroll/Rose Byrne dramedy Adult Beginners, so I foolishly thought they’d at least try to tackle some deep thematic elements such as letting go of loved ones and moving on from a painful loss.
I used the phrase “deep thematic elements” in a chick flick review. That’s a first.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. “You were breathing for me, baby.” Sure, unplug that life support machine, Travis, and let’s see how well you breathing for your wife works for her.
But no. Nope. No. No. No. No. No. We don’t get that. Everything turns out all fine and dandy ’cause love is magical like that. Travis no longer has to make a choice in whether to sign the “Do not Resuscitate” form, and long before that, Gabby didn’t even get a choice in marrying him ’cause his proposal was pretty much stalking her all the way to her folk’s swanky mansion and breaking her will all the way down to nothing until she has no other choice but to frantically scream yes back at him. So no choices for anyone. None. Ain’t that right, Wonka?
“YOU GET NOTHING!!!! YOU LOSE!!!! GOOD DAY, SIR!!!!!!!!”
“I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR!!!!”
Despite the passable charm of Benjamin Walker, a trait that deserves much better, The Choice is just another tearjerker wet dream from Nicholas Sparks that’s every bit as quaint, syrupy, irritating and smeared in heart-shaped bull shit as every other bull shit chick flick that’s been projectile vomited onto the screen. This upcoming Valentine’s Day, you’re better off breaking your significant other’s heart, ’cause dragging them to see this dreck is suffering all the same. The difference is you save yourself the ticket costs.
I give The Choice a D (★).
Review source: http://silverscreenfanatic.com/2016/02/05/the-choice/