Lately, Nicholas Sparks’ movies just aren’t doing it for me the way they used to, and I hate to say it, but The Choice was no exception. I read the book about a year ago and…enjoyed it. Nothing more. Nothing less. I wasn’t exactly jumping out of my seat, but I certainly wasn’t falling asleep either. It was a nice love story. After I turned the very last page and shut the book, I smiled. What a classic, I thought. But after the screen faded to black, I sat in the movie theater with a much different reaction. What a waste of money.
The Choice takes place in a small town in North Carolina. Shocker!!! (All Nicholas Sparks books/movies take place here, but I don’t mind. I actually like it.) The book begins in “present day” with a man named Travis dropping flowers off at his wife, Gabby’s, workplace. We learn that they haven’t spoken in 3 months, nor have they slept in the same bed.
Did they fall out of love?
Did someone cheat?
Was there a huge fight?
All of these questions swirl around in your mind, but before you’re given any answers, the book jumps back about a decade to when Travis Parker and Gabby Holland first met.
Now let’s talk about how the movie begins. The same exact thing happens: Travis is dropping off flowers at his wife’s workplace. But it just doesn’t translate the same way on screen. We see that he’s at a hospital (where yes, Gabby works) and automatically know that something happened to Gabby and he’s visiting his sick/injured wife. There is no red herring, as there was in the book. There’s no room to wonder or to be lead astray, which makes for a more exciting climax down the road.
When we jump back to a decade earlier, we get to really meet Travis Parker (Benjamin Walker). He’s in his 30’s and although all of his friends have settled down with wives and children, whom he adores, he’s still the ever-so-single bachelor who just isn’t interested. Here’s where I had a HUGE problem with the movie. They just didn’t cast Travis right. The book describes Travis as this quiet, rugged guy. He keeps to himself, enjoys alone time, and is more serious than not. But in the movie? That was NOT the case. Not. At. All.
The best way to describe Movie Travis is by calling him a goofball. That’s exactly what he reminds me of. A goofball. Now, there’s nothing wrong with goofballs. In fact, it can be quite endearing. But that just isn’t who Travis is! It’s just not. I felt like I read a book about one guy and watched a movie about an entirely different one.
Anyway, back to the plot…
In both the book and movie, Travis gets a new neighbor, Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer). Gabby is a med student who has a longterm boyfriend named Kevin. In the book, she moved to be closer to Kevin, but in the movie, that was never mentioned.
Annoyed by Travis’ loud music, Gabby goes over to Travis’ house one night to give him a piece of her mind. And she certainly does just that. She flips out on him completely, and in the midst of her yelling, she blames his dog for getting her dog pregnant. Before he can even tell her that his dog is neutered, therefore making her claim impossible, she storms off. The next day she takes her dog to the veterinarian, and to her shock and dismay, learns that Travis is indeed the town vet.
For whatever reason, after that, they fall in love. For absolutely no reason, they just do. No intellectual conversation. No meaningful moment. Nothing. It’s one of those dumb “love at first sight” things that can only really pass in a kids’ movie, if you ask me.
Gabby is then forced with a choice: will she choose Kevin or will she choose Travis? If you forgot about Kevin, don’t feel bad. As I was watching the movie/reading the book, I did, too. In my opinion, that’s a definite flaw. The reader/viewer should not forget about something that will at one point serve as such a pivotal part of the story.
Gabby obviously chooses Travis (if you didn’t predict that, then I don’t even know what to say…) and we are then transported to present day. Things differ a little bit here between the book and movie.
In the book, Travis and Gabby are driving somewhere (with Travis behind the wheel) when the car crashes and Gabby winds up in a coma. In the movie, Travis gets caught up at work and never shows up to dinner with Gabby. As she’s driving home, she gets into a car accident and, you guessed it, she winds up in a coma.
It is now Travis who is left with a choice: does he pull the plug and let Gabby go or keep holding on to hope?
My main complaint is that I feel as though the movie had so many holes. To me, it wasn’t a complete story. And to me, it certainly wasn’t a love story at all. Dear John? Now that’s a love story. Safe Haven? I left the movie theater wanting to buy another ticket and see it again. But The Choice? I don’t know. There just wasn’t anything to it. I feel like nothing spectacular happened. Nothing exciting. Nothing intense. Nothing that made you feel something.
So if you were to ask me if you should see the movie, I would say, “save your $12.”