Love at First Fight
The usual components of a Nicholas Sparks movie are evident in The Choice, an adaptation of his 2007 bestseller being released in time for Valentine’s Day: Photogenic leads (in this case Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer), photogenic locations (in this case the North Carolina coast), flowery soliloquies and observations about love (usually delivered in voice-over), and a generous ladling of tearjerker melodrama.
It’s a formula that has proven profitable time and again. The Choice will not displease the worldwide legions of Sparks fans, and it’s hardly the worst Sparks film. That dubious distinction still applies to 2014’s mind-boggling The Heart of Me, which was also one of the worst films of its year (or any other year, for that matter).
Walker plays a smooth-talking veterinarian, Palmer an attractive med student who lives next door. They meet cute, fighting over his playing of loud music, and even if it takes a while for them, it’s clearly a case of love at first sight.
There are significant – or insignificant – others to be discarded first. In his case, it’s on-and-off squeeze Alexandra Daddario. In hers, it’s former “Smallville” Superman and local physician Tom Welling. Yet even after marriage and children, there’s the inevitable brush with tragedy.
Screenwriter Bryan Sipe manages to incorporate a bit of humor into the soap-opera proceedings, and there’s some fun to be had in listening to the actors’ accents. Walker, who hails from Georgia, adopts a Matthew McConaughey drawl. Palmer, who hails from Australia and whose character hails from Charleston, S.C., attempts no Southern accent whatsoever. Reliable Tom Wilkinson, who hails from England and plays Walker’s kind-hearted father, at first sounds like his LBJ in Selma (2014), then settles into a mid-Atlantic voice with only a hint of Southern accent. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2016, Mark Burger.