Nicholas Sparks

The Longest Ride

Way back in August, we gleefully/somewhat confusedly broke down a then-new trailer for The Best of Me, this year’s single Nicholas Sparks offering, to determine just how “Nicholas Sparks” it actually was. Verdict: very Nicholas Sparks! So it wasn’t entirely shocking when the finished product, a sappy and soppy love story starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, proved to be just as Sparksian in its delivery. Sparks is back again with yet another feature film (since 2012, the author has averaged one film based on his novels per year, so no one should ever be surprised when a new one crops up, which is terrifying but true), one that just might mix up the brand. Kidding! It looks extremely Sparksian, but perhaps The Longest Ride will at least benefit from a slightly new-sounding backdrop: bull riding. Starring Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood, The Longest Ride explores the fated love between an artsy young lass and a bucky young stud (who, yes, likes bull riding). Will true love find a way? Will all the bulls be okay? Who will randomly die of cancer first? Let’s take a look at the first trailer to lay some guesses.

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The Best of Me

The Nicholas Sparks idea well is running dry — also, hey, how come the guy hasn’t tried to kill anyone by tossing them down a well yet? surely, that has to be coming soon — and the prolific author has started cribbing from his own material to slap together lackluster storylines that only approximate genuine feelings, emotional ether floating on the breeze. The latest film to be adapted from Sparks’ written works, Michael Hoffman‘s The Best of Me is rife with plotlines pulled from other Sparks features — kid cancer, car accidents, using an interest in astronomy to prove that someone is smart, disapproving parents, a small Southern town (always a small Southern town, someone introduce Sparks to the North for chrissakes), trademark shocking deaths — but everything is so loosely cobbled together that the film feels closer to a cinematic adaptation of Nicholas Sparks-branded Mad Libs than it does an actual feature. There is, however, one thing that Sparks is still damn good at portraying: the idiocy of first love. But while Sparks’ stories are so often occupied with showing good-looking teens pawing away at each other (and, yes, also pawing away at deep emotions), Sparks steadfastly refuses to face the truth of what he’s writing. These kids are dumb. First love is not the end-all and be-all. The person you are at age seventeen is not the (cough cough) best version of yourself, and continuing to base books and movies on such ideals is, frankly, as immature as anything you’ll find in the average American high school. […]

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Nicholas Sparks Movies

There’s some obscure (and possibly occult) law that if enough people sob at a movie, their tears will fertilize a new film empire. It’s why James Cameron stopped making regular action movies and started putting out three-hour epics like Titanic and Avatar, all designed around jerking as many tears as possible. This would also explain the alleged reports that Cameron showed up during random screenings of Titanic to dab at people’s tears with a wad of hundreds and chuckle menacingly to himself. Nicholas Sparks did the same thing with The Notebook. He got the requisite number of sobs, and now he’s set for life. Along with this year’s The Best of Me and next year’s The Longest Ride, yet another film based on one of his novels is now in the works. Variety reports Sparks’s novel “The Choice” will be adapted into a feature by Ross Katz, whose new film Adult Beginners premieres next week at the Toronto Film Festival (Katz’s first feature, for anyone curious, is the 2009 HBO movie Taking Chance, in which Kevin Bacon escorts home the body of  fallen soldier). Here’s how Variety describes the novel: “the story of a man and a woman who meet first as neighbors in a small coastal town in North Carolina and end up pursuing a relationship that neither could have foreseen.”

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The Best of Me

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.

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The Best of Me Trailer

Check your calendars. Gasp. Blink. Check them again. Yes, it’s true. It’s been over a year since we’ve had a brand new Nicholas Sparks film open in a theater (and a heart, awww). For awhile there, it looked as if author Sparks was going to get a tidy little late winter/early spring thing going — Safe Haven opened on Valentine’s Day of last year, The Lucky One opened in April 0f 2012, and 2010 saw a double dose, with The Last Song hitting theaters in March and Dear John opening in February. There was so much Sparks — for a time. Now, however, we’ve been left with the bitter memories of Safe Haven (how safe is it when ghosts are just wandering around, huh, Sparks?) and the distant dream that one day, perhaps soon, we’d get another Sparks film. Rest your little heads, because that next Sparks film is here, and The Best of Me comes complete with an eye-pleasing cast (James Marsden! Michelle Monaghan! Gerald McRaney!), the director of Soapdish (Michael Hoffman, and we do not consider that an insult, as Soapdish is brilliant) and a time-spanning romance. Ah, smells like Sparks. Let’s take a look, shall we?

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“Just keep your hands on my face in the rain.” To say that movies that started their lives as Nicholas Sparks novels have a well-established style when it comes to their content and aesthetics would be maybe about the biggest understatement of the year. Take two impossibly attractive young people, add some tragic reason they can’t be together, cut it with a love that will conquer all, and pretty much you’ve got the formula—so long as your drama is occurring in an idyllic, rural setting. It gets to the point where every time a new Nicholas Sparks movie starts getting advertised, people can tell that’s exactly what they’re looking at from the first few seconds of the first trailer, and their responses are downright Pavlovian. Not into the Nicholas Sparks thing? Bet you let out an involuntary groan. Love everything the man does? Then it’s the same deal, but with a squeal. Chances are, if you or someone you love is one of the aforementioned squealers, then you’re going to be watching at least one of those movies tonight, seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing for the groaners though, because Bryce Dallas Howard and Funny or Die have teamed up to make a mock trailer that spoofs the whole Nicholas Sparks thing, so now when you’re sitting through Safe Haven for the hundredth time you can think back to just how spot-on they got all of the parody and smirk smugly to […]

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Nicholas Sparks Evil

Nicholas Sparks is really good at killing people. No one is safe in his books and the movies made from them. In fact, if you’ve gotten close to any of the characters, it’s a fair chance that they will develop a terminal illness, reveal that they’ve been hiding a terminal illness or be struck with a terminal disease called drowning. Sparks is an angry god, and he shuffles off mortal coils aplenty in order to pretend that he writes Greek tragedy and tug despotically at heartstrings. The murdering mastermind has struck again with Safe Haven, capitalizing on the fact that people love crying violently at movies on Valentine’s Day, and like many have done before with Freddy, Jason and Leatherface, it seems only appropriate that we tally up all the bodies lying at Sparks’ feet. Maybe someone can even make a memorial video set to Sarah McLachlan or something. As expected, Spoilers for all Sparks movies abound.

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I walked into Safe Haven last night prepared to turn my nose up at the overly romantic Nicholas Sparks-isms and to expect a lot of people to fall victim to cancer. I had seen a few of the other movies based on Sparks’ books, so I had an idea of what was about to befall me. Once the movie started, however, I was a little ashamed of myself, because I really started to enjoy it. I giggled like a schoolgirl when hottie supreme Josh Duhamel wooed Julianne Hough. I even caught myself smiling alone in the dark as Duhamel’s character proved himself to be the greatest single father time and time again to his two adorable children. I shouldn’t be ashamed of myself, right? Director Lasse Hallström once directed What’s Eating Gilbert Grape! This Safe Haven love fest did soon give way to my initial expectations. About halfway through there’s an incredibly stupid “twist,” and the film culminates with another “twist” so insane that it out-insanes every other Sparks joint I’ve seen. I involuntarily blurted out “Jesus Christ!” quite loudly in the theater as it went down. The romantic plot is very well executed and the two leads have chemistry to burn – Hallström helps create some very palpable connections between the characters. It’s just everything else that is pretty… god-awful.

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The latest cinematic adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks romance novel, The Lucky One is a messy, tone-deaf, and laughable movie outing, an embarrassment to director Scott Hicks (Shine, The Boys Are Back), a black mark against Zac Efron‘s attempts at becoming a romantic lead, and an unsurprising continuation of Sparks’s ceaseless attack on what passes for a love story these days. Let’s put it this way – The Lucky One is so dismal, so off-kilter, so nonsensical that even the ever-ready charms of Zac Efron cannot redeem it in the slightest. At its heart, the film hinges on one of Sparks’s most ludicrous conceits yet – Marine Logan Thibault (Efron, more bulked up than ever, yet still unable to even resemble a professional solider)  is “rescued” by a picture of an unknown woman during his third tour of Iraq, a laminated picture of a pretty girl that catches his eye and pulls him away from a structure that blows up right behind him. If he hadn’t gone for the picture, he would be dead – the girl in the photograph saved him. At least, that’s what Logan thinks and what The Lucky One rests on. Convinced he owes some debt to the girl in the picture, Logan embarks on a quest to find her once he returns to the States.

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Over Under - Large

Today is Valentine’s Day, and a big part of what that entails is time spent thinking about the one you adore. And, for me, it means thinking about romantic movies. So what has happened is I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on my current mancrush Ryan Gosling, what films he’s done that explore the concepts of love and romance, and how I feel about each of them. And surprise, surprise, a column idea sprung forth. Today I’ll be looking at The Notebook, a film that a lot of people respond to very strongly, a film that most every girl you know loves, and a film that’s an instant panty dropper when thrown into casual conversations with hormonal coeds. Also, I’ll be looking at Lars and the Real Girl, a movie that’s well regarded among the people that have seen it, but that was too strange for many moviegoers to take a chance on, or for any mainstream award shows to champion. And also, it’s a movie that can mean instant death if you try to explain it to a girl in a bar.

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There is no better phrase to describe Nicholas Sparks‘s writing than “safe haven.” He’s found a structure that requires only that he shove in new character names and weaknesses, come up with some horrific tragedy to slam on the brakes near the end, and collect the checks. Strangely enough, director Lasse Hallström may have found his pattern as well, as Deadline Daytona is reporting that the veteran might sign on to direct the next appropriately titled Sparks adaptations. Safe Haven is the story of a young lady who doesn’t want to make friends, but then makes friends while stuffing her terrible secret deep, deep down. I haven’t read the book, but it’s shoe money that the secret comes out. And that a character we’ve grown to care about is diagnosed with Instant Death Disease with only 5 minutes left in the movie. Hallström broken his Sparks cherry with Dear John, and with his work on Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, it seems like he might be switching between curious storytelling and cookie-cutter, made-for-money Sparksian non-challenges. On the other hand, he’s no stranger to romances (like Chocolat), and it’ll be worthwhile if he can find a romantic sponsor for his other films. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of him making those other films (he’s signed on for a Danish crime drama called The Hypnotist for 2012 release), then what harm could it do?

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr damns the gods with reviews of Clash of the Titans, The Last Song and Why Did I Get Married Too?

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Dear John never strikes the right balance between a Nicholas Sparks movie and a Lasse Hallström movie.

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Walt Disney Pictures has released the first trailer for The Last Song, an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel starring Miley Cyrus, Kelly Preston and Greg Kinnear. And I don’t know about you, but I’m just happy to see young Miley finally in a movie where Billy Ray Cyrus doesn’t also play her fictional father.

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Diane Lane and Richard Gere in Night in Rodanthe

Due to the way he was affected by his screening of Nights in Rodanthe, Cole Abaius has decided to forego the standard review format. Instead, he will review the film in the form of an open letter to the filmmakers.

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It appears that Miley Cyrus is looking to grow up and get into the movie business, but it doesn’t appear that she’s ready to do it without her Disney handlers just yet.

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Amanda Seyfried signs on to Dear John

Before you get too excited about the title, please note that this news has nothing to do with Mamma Mia! hottie Amanda Seyfried playing a hooker.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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