It has to be said: I am a big, big fan of Nicholas Sparks. It all started back in 2002 with the movie A Walk to Remember and from then on I was hooked. I’ve read almost all of Sparks’ books, and I religiously go and see the movies as they come out almost annually. I am a total, absolute sucker for the romance, the inevitable illness/death that will come up, and the attractive male leads that get cast. So, for those of you not yet on the Nicholas Sparks train (for this I focus only on the movies), what should you watch? Well, I am glad you asked!
Sweetest Dates: A Walk to Remember
This was my first NS movie, and I think it is my favourite. Mandy Moore stars as Jamie Sullivan – daughter of the town Reverend – she is somewhat of a loner, picked on for her faith and her dowdy clothes. Landon Carter, played by Shane West, is the popular bad boy, thrown into Jamie’s path when he is forced to take part in the school play in which she has a starring role. Of course, they fall in love – but I think it’s the way that Landon woos her that makes this the sweetest. And when tragedy befalls the couple, as it always does, I cry every time. (Note how hard I am trying to not give away spoilers?)
Anyway, this one should also get a nod for it’s soundtrack. I LOVE the music in this movie. There’s plenty of early 2000s numbers including some from Mandy Moore, Switchfoot and New Radicals. Actually the song by New Radicals (Mother, We Just Can’t Get Enough) is a favourite. That’s when Landon sees Jamie walking down the school corridor and realises he’s attracted to her and doesn’t know what to do about it. *sigh*
Best Hair/Creepiest Storyline: Safe Haven
Safe Haven sees Katie move to a small town in North Carolina, where she meets store owner, and widower, Alex, and his two adorable kids. The attraction is automatic, but we know Katie is hiding a secret past. This movie is super creepy – at least where Nicholas Sparks movies are usually concerned (and at least in my opinion – I am a total wuss!). My mum actually said to me, “This is scary! I thought we were going to watch a chic flick?”. I was on the edge of my seat watching this one. I feel like the twist at the end is a bit of overkill, but I do love this story!
This one gets an award for Greatest Haircut. Julianne Hough’s lob is on fleek – it’s not only perfectly tousled in every scene, but she flipping cut it and dyed it herself while on the run from her violent ex-husband (played extremely well by Aussie, David Lyons)! And really, Josh Duhamel’s hair is pretty special too. Maybe we can award him Most Attractive Dad in a Nicholas Sparks movie? Any objections?
For the Oldies: Nights in Rodanthe
I think I’m on my own when I say I quite liked Nights in Rodanthe. Yes, it has an older cast in Diane Lane and Richard Gere, but I didn’t let that stop me from getting sucked in to the storyline. It sees Adrienne heading out to one of the most impressive looking B&Bs by the beach I’ve ever seen, to get some peace and quiet (she’s going through a nasty divorce). Richard Gere turns up (Paul), who is dealing with some demons of his own – namely, the death of a patient (he’s a top-notch surgeon). As a huge storm rolls in, they bond and, naturally, fall in love in the space of a couple of hours. Turns out, Paul is also harbouring some guilt for putting his career before his son and wants to travel to South America, where the son is working, to make peace. I can’t spoil the end of this one, it’s just too sad. I cried. A lot. But I think it’s worth a look!
Best of Both Worlds: The Best of Me
You get the young and “old” in this one. Dawson and Amanda are high school sweethearts and it’s the standard “wrong side of the tracks” trope. Dawson comes from a long line of criminal relatives. He runs away from home and starts boarding at local recluse Tuck’s house. In the meantime he meets prim and proper Amanda and they fall in love (surprise, surprise). Flash forward twenty or so years, Amanda and Dawson have gone their separate ways but are brought back together when Tuck passes away. The movie flashes back and forth between the love story while Amanda and Dawson grew up, and how they feel on seeing each other again after all those years. Will their flame be reignited? Well, you will have to watch it and see (although I am sure you can guess). Be prepared for a shock ending though!
I have to say…I don’t really buy the casting for this one. Somehow Luke Bracey does not equal a young James Marsden. But on the whole, this one is a pretty good tearjerker, and fluffy as can be.
For the Family Bonding: The Last Song
I do come back to this one a lot (and it’s probably my favourite of Sparks’ books). Miley Cyrus stars as Ronnie, shipped off to her dad’s for the summer, with her brother Jonah. While there, she meets and falls for the extremely spunky Will (Liam Hemsworth). There’s all sorts of sub-plots in this one: Ronnie as the “misunderstood” rebel, the mysterious burning down of a church, the rescuing of yet-to-hatch sea turtles – I promise, as random as that all sounds, those stories do all fit together! But at it’s core it’s about family and there won’t be a dry eye in the house. (Is it actually possible to watch a Nicholas Sparks movie without crying?!)
There’s also the added bonus of a shirtless Hemsworth brother. Multiple times shirtless. Playing volleyball. Being hosed down after making mud pies with Miley. Trust me. This is a good one!
Best Tattoo: The Lucky One
Look…I’m not going to lie, I actually didn’t love this movie. I didn’t mind the book, but I didn’t love the movie as much as I thought I would. I think for me, Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling were an odd match and for me, when the couple doesn’t click on screen, the film is a hard sell. In this one, Zac plays Logan – a US marine who avoids death by the skin of his teeth when he picks up a photograph of a woman only seconds before a bomb explodes where he was standing. Determined to find the woman in the photo to thank her for “saving his life”, he eventually tracks down Beth and her young son Ben, and starts working at their animal shelter. It’s a fairly typical storyline – Beth doesn’t immediately warm to Logan, but naturally she gets over that (probably because Logan is extremely attractive when he’s lugging stuff around the shelter for her). She’s got her own issues in her ex-husband being a jerk and wanting custody of Ben. Blah blah blah. Really all I enjoyed was seeing the incredibly sexy tattoo on Zac Efron’s back. Sorry Nicholas, this story just didn’t do it for me!
Of course, there are many other Nicholas Sparks movies that I haven’t included in this post. Some I’m not a big fan of (The Notebook and Dear John) and there are some newbies over the last year or so that I quite enjoyed (The Longest Ride). But I’ve gotta leave some mysteries! What’s your favourite Nicholas Sparks movie so far? Has anyone read The Choice (which is the next movie on the horizon)?
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