The Choice Review
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February just wouldn’t be complete without a romantic tear-jerker—preferably one that’s based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. And, this year, you can take your Valentine (or your girl friends) on a cinematic journey back to the beaches of North Carolina for another boilerplate Nicholas Sparks romance, The Choice.

The Choice stars Benjamin Walker as Travis, a small-town veterinarian and laidback ladies’ man who has happily avoided any commitment beyond an on-and-off relationship with his high school sweetheart, Monica (Alexandra Daddario). But when he meets his new neighbor, Gabby (Teresa Palmer), a med student who seems outraged by everything he does, he can’t help but fall for her. Though she’s dating a rich, successful doctor (Tom Welling), Travis just can’t stay away. But as their conflicts turn into friendship—and maybe something more—they’re forced to face one difficult decision after another.

If you’ve seen a Nicholas Sparks romance before, you already know what to expect from The Choice: the scenic seaside setting, the breezy romance, the tear-jerker story. And, for loyal fans, that’s generally enough to make it a must-see.

For the rest of us, though, the predictable story and clumsy acting make it a less than romantic experience. After all, it’s not hard to see where these two characters are heading—and their rocky road to romance is paved with awkward encounters.

Though Travis is supposed to be a smooth-talking Southern gentleman whom no woman could possibly resist, he’s played more cheesy than charming. He may be handsome in his own shaggy kind of way, but he’s anything but subtle—the kind of guy that women might seek out in a bar, but they’ll laugh about him with their friends after he sets out to aim his smarmy lines elsewhere.

Gabby, meanwhile, is excessively irritated by his every move. She complains and fumes and overacts her way through every line—which, of course, turns their relationship into a frustrating cliché. Because no matter how much she protests, he knows what she really wants—and he won’t take no for an answer.

Still, this is more than just a will-they-or-won’t-they love story; it goes on much longer, spanning seven long, drawn-out years. And, in a way, it feels more like two stories—complete with a montage-style intermission in between. It takes a whole lot of time to build up to the tear-jerking drama—and, once it finally gets there, it feels half-hearted. If you really want to cry while watching this movie, you probably can—but it might take more effort than you’d expect.

Of course, if you love Nicholas Sparks romances unconditionally, you’ll still enjoy The Choice—because it generally fits neatly into the Sparks formula. But, thanks to the characters’ awkward relationship and the drawn-out drama, even fans aren’t likely to list it among their favorites—and everyone else should feel free to look elsewhere for their Valentine’s week entertainment.

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