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Film Review: Formula for success — “The Choice”

Rating: B

It’s nearly an irrefutable truth that every current and former teenage girl of recent years has seen one of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic film adaptations. Some of his most popular ones include “Message in a Bottle” and “The Notebook,” the latter being the subject of many memes and quotes that make their rounds on social media. Sparks’ newest film “The Choice,” based on one of his best-selling novels, is another refreshing addition to his long list of romantic movies and, while many of his predictable writing techniques carry over from previous films, it’s still a successful formula.

“The Choice” should not be one of those Sparks movies that gets lost in its “chick flick” definition. This one has a little bit to offer for everyone. When Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), a medical student, moves in next door to Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker), a veterinarian at his father’s local practice, they immediately get testy with one another. It’s only when Holland’s boyfriend, Dr. Ryan McCarthy (Tom Welling), goes away on a month-long business trip that things between the two neighbors start to heat up.

What keeps this one going is its setting. Set in the town of Beaufort, N.C., the story offers a too-good-to-be-true example of coastal lifestyle: relaxed, close-knit and carefree. Minus the hurricanes, it seems to be a delightful place to live, and a delightful place to get hitched.

What’s most interesting to watch, however, is the development of the characters’ relationship. Without outlining every detail, it starts off with them getting on each other’s nerves and playing hard-to-get. His loud partying and beer-drinking habits eventually are the tipping point to their initial confrontation and their first meeting as neighbors altogether. That’s where the tension between them comes from, and every person that can appreciate Sparks’ work knows what happens when this type of tension reaches a tipping point.

Dog lovers who see this flick will also rejoice with how the lovable animals are incorporated into the story. You’ll find that one of the major reasons for the character’s first meeting had to do with Shaw’s dog getting hers “knocked up.”

This movie has strength in its story, but nevertheless it deserves a B due to another use of Spark’s story formula, where two people meet and fall in love, have a big fight, make up and then something bad happens. Audiences continue to eat it up, however. So despite what any film critic says, it’s still a formula for success.

To all the viewers out there: as with every romance movie, take it with a grain of salt. Everyone’s real love life does not unfold exactly like it does in “The Choice.” If you’re single and expecting your future significant other to come riding in on a chariot being pulled by unicorns or something similar, think again. This doesn’t mean to stop dreaming, though, because dreams, even romantic ones, are what holds us all together. But until that day comes along, you can certainly entertain yourself by watching “The Choice,” because like many of Sparks’ films, it shows that there is someone special out there for everyone.

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