The Choice is a Tedious Romance Film, Full of Boring People
Directed by: Ross Katz
Screenplay by: Bryan Sipe
Based on The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Welling, Tom Wilkinson Running time 111 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues
Travis (Benjamin Walker) is a man used to getting what he wants, an untamed nice guy content with a life of endless flirtation and the companionship of his dog. Gabby (Teresa Palmer) is a spunky med student and an intern at the local hospital where she is currently dating her hotshot Doctor boss (who is also a nice guy), Ryan (Tom Welling). When Gabby moves in next door to Travis they immediately begin bothering each other, and aggressively flirting when Gabby accuses Travis’ dog of knocking up her dog. This has her quickly eating her words when she learns that his dog is neutered, and Travis is the local Veterinarian with his father Shep (Tom Wilkinson). This begins a combative friendship that comes to a head when Gabby’s boyfriend, and likely fiancé, leaves town on business and Gabby and Travis become better acquainted. This short tryst comes to an abrupt end when Ryan comes home and Gabby has to make a difficult decision, but instead leaves town, forcing Travis to chase her down and beg for her hand in marriage. For a time life couldn’t be better but as Travis spends more time taking care of his patients Gabby begins to drift away, until life forces Travis to make, or not make, some earth shattering choices.
The Choice is a Nicolas Sparks movie to the letter, ham-fisted, predictable to the minute, and thoroughly uninteresting. While there was ample opportunity to fill this story with compelling and complex characters and situations that could challenge an audience into feeling more than the most superficial reflections of emotion, it passes every one of these opportunities for the well-trodden path of the safe romance novel. It could be that I am overly familiar with these films, having seen one a year for several years, but the fact that I could write predictions about every plot-point well in advance of it happening was beyond frustrating. My notebook literally looks like an outline of the script, complete with timestamps, the only thing I got was the timing of a few events, I wrote down 1 hour, and it happened at 1 hour 15 minutes, for example. This is a long way of saying that I was bored, and tried to keep myself interested in what was transpiring on the screen. Now you might think I am simply not a fan of this genera of film, and if you did not know me, you might be justified in thinking just that, but the fact is, I am a fan of good romance, but more important I am a fan of good story.
No doubt, this will make money, likely enough to keep the industry of Nicholas Sparks alive, and no doubt, this film will have fans. I suspect teenage girls will be particularly interested in giving time and money to have their newly minted emotions excited, and I am OK with this. It is an immature film, suitable for an immature audience.