Author Nicholas Sparks knows what he’s doing. The bestselling scribe has penned seventeen novels, ten of which have been turned into films, two of which will arrive in theaters within the next year. Sparks’ films have pulled in nearly half a billion dollars in just domestic box office returns, making a hell of a bankable brand that appeals to all sorts of studios (Sparks’ films have been produced by a variety of movie studios, from Warner Bros. to Relativity to Sony’s Screen Gems label). Sparks know what’s up. The people who make films based on his novel know what’s up.
And, if you’ve ever read even one Sparks book or seen one Sparks movie, you also know what’s up, because these productions tend to look pretty damn similar. There are plenty of hallmarks of Sparks’ work, from a Southern setting to imminent death scenes to lots of yelling in the rain, and it appears that the majority of them are on full display in his latest film, The Best of Me. Starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, the autumn offering smacks of Sparks, and its latest trailer proves it. Just how “Nicholas Sparks” is our latest Nicholas Sparks film? Oh, it’s extremely Sparks-y. After the break, let’s all enjoy a second-by-second breakdown of all the most Sparksian elements this new trailer has to offer.
0:01 A nonsense quote! A quick search of the Google machine reveals that “there’s nothing more enduring than first love” is not exactly an “anonymous” quote, because it appears to have been crafted expressly for this film. It should really be credited to “Relativity Marketing Team.”
0:11 A disaster sequence. Points to Sparks for not making it about cancer, however.
0:16 One character’s worldview that “everything happens for a reason” delivered via voiceover. Yes, everything does happen for a reason — it’s called cause and effect — but not in the manner that Michelle Monaghan’s Amanda is going for here. Like many fans of Tumblr and Pintrest and made-up nonsense quotes about love, Amanda seems to think that stuff happens (even terrible stuff) for an after reason, like bringing people back together. It’s a narrow and sort of depressing worldview. What of free will, Sparks?
0:24 A flashback!
0:27 A forced belief that a “teen” who is obviously good-looking — in this case, Luke Bracey’s younger Dawson — is somehow undesirable for a weird reason, like that he “doesn’t know how to flirt.” Does this guy look like he needs to flirt? This is the male equivalent of the “she’d be so pretty, if she didn’t have those glasses and ponytail” trope that’s so prevalent in teen-centric romances. Who cares if this guy can’t flirt? Look at his face!
0:35 A flower gift.
0:39 Slightly awkward kissing scene.
0:42 Innocent but sexy outdoor fun.
0:45 Dancing and a fireplace — repeat, we have dancing and a fireplace.
0:49 Clashing classes. :(
0:52 A fistfight that appears to be a set in an abandoned car lot, with bonus barrel fire.
0:54 A terrible event — in this case, a gunshot — that we just know will have repercussions down the line, though they’re unclear here. Also, did anyone actually get shot? Plot twist!
0:57 Running, screaming, crying in the rain.
1:02 The DEA? That might be new.
1:06 Parents who just don’t understand.
1:10 One character sacrificing their own happiness in an attempt to protect the other one.
Break to note that Liana Liberato is so perfect as a young Michelle Monaghan that it’s actually kind of jarring and a continued note that Luke Bracey still looks too old to play a young James Marsden and we’ll just let that rest for now, okay? Okay.
1:17 John Legend song.
1:20 “A miracle”!
1:23 A traumatic event that drives people back together.
1:25 A barn?
1:29 Expository dialogue that’s fairly obvious.
1:36 A very Southern dinner.
1:42 Laughing, smiling, John Legending, remembering.
1:44 Kissing that looks actually physically painful.
1:51 “Laaiffe.” Laaiffe happened, Amanda, laaiffe.
1:53 Another very Southern meal.
1:58 An argument that takes place in actual marshlands.
2:00 Was that a letter?
2:05 Purposeful walking through a hospital.
2:08 More class warfare.
2:16 Kissing on a water tower.
2:20 A big love profession that ties back into the past, and also probably laaiffe.
Verdict: Nicholas Spark’s The Best of Me is indeed a very Nicholas Sparks outing.
The Best of Me opens on October 17.