Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Just Average: 14.29%
Pretty Crappy: 0%

1 review, 1 rating

Latest Reviews

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura by Jay Seaver

Buffalo Boys by Jay Seaver

Mandy by Rob Gonsalves

Road Not Taken, The by Jay Seaver

Great Battle, The by Jay Seaver

True Fiction by Jay Seaver

Pick of the Litter by Jay Seaver

Fahrenheit 11/9 by Peter Sobczynski

House With A Clock In Its Walls, The by Peter Sobczynski

Life Itself (2018) by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed

Best of Me, The
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Jaycie

"Nicholas’ spark dies of loneliness."
1 stars

I came away from this film more convinced than ever that there has never been a man named Nicholas Sparks. That name was simply a cuddly term for a computer program that annually shuffles around a few stock story elements and inserts them into a document vaguely resembling a script. This is the only possible explanation for The Best of Me – that or Sparky is contractually obligated to produce one new sniffler every year for the rest of his life and just doesn’t feel like trying very hard.

The high-school romance of Dawson (Luke Bracey) and Amanda (Liana Liberato) is doomed! DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED! We know this because she wears white gloves at her parents’ garden party and his family looks like the relatives Dog the Bounty Hunter doesn't like to talk about. Also, he tells her to stay away from him because he sparkles and wants to drink her blood, or because he’s a secret S&M billionaire, or something, but she doesn’t listen. And then he goes to jail. Don't ask. Fast forward 20 years, during which time Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) has gotten married to someone else and Dawson (James van der Beek – I mean, Marsden) has apparently sobbed and jerked off to her every single night since. Why is it that the romances that last decades in Sparksworld are the ones that start when both parties are at their most confused, inarticulate and hormonal age? It doesn’t make things any more plausible, that’s all I’m saying.

So now they have to rekindle their "love," and they do this with the aid of letters from their now-dead father figure, Tuck (Gerald McRaney), whose mere existence puts the "ach" in deus ex machina. Luckily, Amanda looks like Michelle Monaghan and Dawson has a penchant for wearing sweat-stained tank tops in his barn, so that doesn’t take long. Also helping the proceedings along is Amanda’s husband, Frank (Sebastian Arcelus). Now, disposable male love interests in Sparksworld fall into one of two categories: Puppy Waiting to Be Kicked or Irredeemable Asshole. Frank started as the former and, following the death of one of their children, is now squarely in the latter camp; we know this because he drinks from a flask behind the wheel in broad daylight. The development of this character is the one of the two sparks (see what I did thar?) of originality present. It is, of course, extinguished post-haste.

Every cliché from every other Sparks movie you can think of, and a few you can’t, are on display here. The young lovers frolic in the river and sit in a tree, being B-O-R-I-N-G. They’re separated by her Southern-accented parents who find him insufficiently white. They exchange a tortured kiss in a torrential downpour. They tenderly and beautifully deflower one another in front of a roaring fire. They have an angry confrontation about each other’s abandonment culminating in a second round of sex. They slow-dance by themselves . . . many times. A life-altering health emergency ties everything together. (SPOILER: For those who aren’t going to see this movie anyway, let me put it this way: Return to Me.) "White people almost kissing" poster. Cloying adult-alternative soundtrack. Looking at the same stars at the same time. All that’s missing is war and a canoe.

Casting-wise, Marsden and Monaghan earn their paychecks and little else. Any 30-something man with enough rugged handsomeness and any 30-something woman with enough lived-in beauty could have played present Dawson and Amanda. McRaney is the standout of the adults, although you have to wonder about a man whose dying wish is for a couple he knew when they were teenagers to end up together. Does nobody in Sparksworld have a life of their own anymore? On the other hand, the actual fathers (Jon Tenney as père Collier, Sean Bridgers as the Dawson-bearer) are simply diametrically opposite Southern stereotypes, one pompous enough to make Billy Zane cringe, the other who I would bet money really was born in a van down by the river.

As for the young ‘uns, Liana Liberato is serviceable as the "spunky," "spirited" younger Amanda; she’d do well in a role that demands actual spunk and spirit, instead of the overbearing and judgmental personality we're meant to interpret as such. Meanwhile, Luke Bracey, while competent enough, is a bizarre choice for the younger Dawson. Despite the trailer’s valiant cross-dissolve, nobody missed the fact that he and Marsden don’t even look like third cousins, let alone like the same guy. One source of amusement on this character’s part, other than the fact that his name is Dawson, is a scene in which he reads the world’s most obvious physics book to signify his secret brain. Director Michael Hoffman must have seen Julia Stiles reading The Bell Jar in 10 Things I Hate About You the night before and decided it was a great way to say "Look, he’s deep!"

Speaking of the direction, if Michael Bay’s sole principle of cinematography is to "Porn it!" (TM the Nostalgia Critic), directors of Sparks movies are apparently under strict instructions to make everything look like a commercial for yeast infection cream. It’s a leafy coastal town. We get it.

And, good Lord, the dialogue. "You aren’t just someone I loved back then – you are the very best of me." "You want me to fall back in love with you? How can I do that if I never stopped?" "I blame you for thinking you knew what was best for me when it was you that was best for me!" Nobody talks that way. Only one superlative applies to lines like these, and it definitely ain’t "best."

What baffles me about the success of Sparksworld is how so many people, even hardened veterans of film criticism, are willing to give its fare a pass while acknowledging how uninspired and drippy it is. Sure, he makes women who should know better cry, but they’re crying at the same thing every year, when any similar author remains consigned to the book sections of airport newsstands and Rite Aid. Why are we not demanding better from this hack? Why do so many audiences allow him to manipulate their basest emotions and rake in millions from it? Why hasn’t he become as much of a punch line as Danielle Steel? In fact, are we sure they’re not the same person?

I’m sure I’ll get a few angry responses from Sparks apologists accusing me of being too cynical to grasp the concept of young and true love. Unto you, 40-something soccer moms of America, I say that is not true. I am simply too cynical to have young and true love shoved down my throat with the frequency and tedium of Sparksworld. But as The Longest Ride is set to drop next spring and Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer have just been cast in the movie version of The Choice, C:WINDOWS>romance.exe is clearly shuffling on.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=25935&reviewer=432
originally posted: 12/07/14 21:07:10
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  17-Oct-2014 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-Feb-2015


  DVD: 03-Feb-2015

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast