The central theme of The Best of Me, which focuses on two high-school sweethearts in Louisiana who are reunited 21 years after their hot romance ended, is destiny. If two people are meant to be together, then neither hell nor high water -- or in this case, spiteful families and prison -- can keep them apart. And if destiny holds sway, this sluggish adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ tearjerking novel isn’t fated to be in movie theaters for long.
Starry-eyed lovers Dawson Cole (James Marsden) and Amanda Collier (Michelle Monaghan) are reunited when their mutual friend and mentor Tuck (Gerald McRaney) dies. Tuck’s lawyer calls them up and requests that they attend the reading of the will. Of course, when they see one another, it isn’t long before sparks fly and the two are happily in each other’s arms again. But Amanda is now married to an alcoholic -- naturally -- and has a son. Dawson never wed after spending some time in the slammer for an accidental shooting, and has been working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The story continually switches back and forth between the present and their school days, when he was a good boy from a violent, trashy family, and she was a good girl with high ambitions whose upper-crust clan didn’t want her mixed up with the no-good Coles. Unfortunately, the young Dawson (Luke Bracey) and the teenage Amanda (Liana Liberato) look like they are from a different movie entirely. It’s difficult to believe they grow up to become the future versions of their characters. This is especially true of Bracey, who doesn’t resemble Marsden in the least. The 25-year-old actor also looks too old to be a high schooler. But these are minor quibbles compared to the clumsy script, lumbering direction, and awkward editing.
The movie clocks in at just under two hours (a good half-hour longer than it needs to be), and becomes increasingly ponderous and preposterous as it goes along. The chief flaw is that there are no surprises; even though the story is filled with twists, every turn is telegraphed well ahead of time. And then there is the ending: Suffice it to say that it is not only unsatisfying, but verges on the ridiculous.
Marsden (who stepped in for the late Paul Walker) and Monaghan bring more depth to their characters than the mawkish script deserves, but even they can’t breathe much life into insipid dialogue. The Best of Me is for die-hard Nicholas Sparks fans only, but even they might find this woeful weepie too much to endure.
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- Released: 2014
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: The central theme of The Best of Me, which focuses on two high-school sweethearts in Louisiana who are reunited 21 years after their hot romance ended, is destiny. If two people are meant to be together, then neither hell nor high water -- or in this case,… (more)