Friday, October 17, 2014

The Best of Me (PG-13/117 min.)

It appears that Nicholas Sparks has out-Nicholas-Sparks’d himself with this one.  Had this been the first of his films I’d ever seen, I would’ve been a weepy mess.  Fortunately for me, it wasn’t.  I only teared up a little bit, thankyouverymuch.  

"The Best of Me" is the story of Dawson and Amanda, young lovers separated by tragedy only to reconnect 20…correction…21 years later, after the passing of a mutual friend.  If you’ve ever read a Nicholas Sparks book (the covers of which have been laughingly described as “White People Almost Kissing”) or seen any of his movies you know that someone is not going to survive.  It’s like the expendable crew member on Star Trek except that viewers actually care when you pass.  My apologies, expendable crew members, but you know it’s true.  If you’ve not read the books or seen the movies then you may not have already been made aware of the impending doom for at least one character.  I would apologize for a possible spoiler but I just can’t.  I was flat-out irritated by the end of the movie, having not read the book in advance.  I really wish I had.  It was just overkill…pun intended.   Enough of that.  The love story itself was sweet without being disgustingly so.

Despite that, it was as well-written/filmed as any of his other movies.  In a good way.  I love love LOVED that James Marsden (Dawson) finally won a leading role.  And I’m not just saying that because he was born and raised in Oklahoma.  Not that that hurts my feelings either.  He was not difficult at all to watch in his film.  He and Michelle Monaghan (Amanda) played well off each other.  Luke Bracey and Liana Liberator were also convincing as young Dawson and Amanda.  

The way Liana talks reminds alot of Clare Bowen who plays Scarlett O’Connor in the hit TV series Nashville.  I’m just sayin’.  I truly liked all these characters.  They seemed like genuinely good people.  However, I adored Tuck, played by Gerald McRaney.  I always enjoy seeing a crotchety old teddy bear.  He practically stole every scene he was in. When young Amanda went to him after disaster struck, my heart just hurt for the both of them.

One of my favorite “characters” in "The Best of Me" was Tuck’s house and garden.  I know that sounds odd but there were times in which I was aiming so much of my attention at the wonderfulness of both that I was distracted from what was actually happening in the scene.  I thought I was going to be ill when part of the garden was intentionally hurt and then again when it was overgrown.  If my Gma L was still alive she’d feel the same and would probably want to hunt the place down to see it all for herself.  And don’t even get me started on the boat dock.  My feet would be absolute prunes all the time if I had access to that.  The entire area was a tribute to lazy, warm days.

I took Mack with me to see this movie and, unfortunately, a few things happened that kept us from getting altogether absorbed in the story line.  She told me that I’m not allowed to mention that she about came out of her skin a few times so I’ll just say that she said to write that there were “several random loud noises.”  Each time it happened we both got the giggles.  Many apologies to the people sitting around us.  We also kept getting pulled out because of little mistakes that we just HAD to discuss right then.  For instance, Dawson mails what looks to be several hundred dollars cash without sealing the envelope.  I’m sure it got safely to its destination.  After Dawson breaks into someone’s garage, he starts fixing a car that’s parked in it.  Apparently he was THAT bored!  Or maybe he decided that was how he could pay the person back for “borrowing” their shelter.  A car dies in front of a long line of other cars (and right in front of Dawson’s truck).  Dawson and his friend push the car out of the way and Dawson starts to work on it but they never go back to move his truck.  Whoops!  And it takes less than a minute to fix.  It didn’t need to be moved in the first place!  Finally, Dawson left his Physics book inside Amanda’s car.  You’re probably thinking, “Big deal.  People leave stuff in cars all the time.”  I meant IN the car as in under the hood.  Oopsie daisey!  I know these are little things but they’re big enough to be distracting.  Isn’t that what editors are for? 
I have a feeling I’ll be headed to iTunes soon to buy the soundtrack, if available.  I thoroughly enjoyed the music and wouldn’t be surprised at all if Irving Berlin’s family ends up with a nice, fat royalty check from the number of downloads of “What’ll I Do?”  While I would like to be able to say that I actually recognized that song, I didn’t.  It received a big shout out in a couple of scenes.  They also played a song I hadn’t heard in ages; “All I Want” by Toad the Wet Sprocket.  If I’d never heard this song before I would think it had been written specifically for this film.  It’s only briefly heard though and, in my opinion, in the wrong scene.  It would have been perfect in any of the garden scenes with grown-up Dawson and Amanda. 

And now, for the break-down:

Except for the young tap dancer who sat down the row from us I didn’t see many teenagers or children at the pre-screening.  She seemed to take it all in stride but a few things happened which would cause me to agree with the PG-13 rating.

Sex/Nudity – Yes.  The important parts are kept strategically covered though.  If you’ve seen the trailer, you probably saw the scene in which Amanda is floating on her back in the water.  A couple of things were “fixed” so that they weren’t seen by the television audience.  That’s the worst of it as far as nudity.  The sex wasn’t graphic but you definitely know it’s happening.  I know I should have been happy for the couple doing this but I couldn’t get past the fact that they shouldn’t have been for one very important reason.  

Drinking/Drugs/Smoking – Yes.  I don’t recall actually seeing anyone smoking but I saw what I’m sure was meant to be scars from cigarette burns.  Just the thought…  Grown-up Amanda and Dawson drink wine and beer.  I thought we were going to see underage drinking, but nope.  We didn’t see anyone doing drugs but there was a drug bust.

Cussing/Swearing - Yes.  There was more than I’d like but it could’ve been alot worse.  The most used was $#!+ but I believe there was more swearing than cussing.  God and Jesus were mentioned quite often and while I’m sure He/They enjoy a good shout out, I believe we all could’ve done without.  It’s just not necessary.

Violence – Yes.  We saw child (okay…teenager) abuse.  One of the good guys got a nasty beating.  That one hurt me.  And guns played a big role in the film.  

I keep wondering if it’s written in Nicholas Sparks’ contract that he has to make his readers cry and then I’m reminded that the man sells many copies of each book he writes.  Obviously people just need a good cry.  I just hate knowing that someone is gonna kick it and I have to wait until the end to find out who.  At that point I am highly invested in the characters’ lives and don’t want to learn that any of them die.  His books make me willing to believe that something like the book/movie “Misery” could really happen.  If you haven’t seen it and you like Stephen King or Stephen King-type stories, run to your nearest video store and rent it.  It’s so good.  And super creepy.  But back to “The Best of Me”.  If you like Nicholas Sparks movies you’ll probably like this.  Guys, you should already know that this is a chick flick…big time.  One of my younger cousins posted on Facebook that she really liked it.  She also mentioned that she dragged her husband to it but didn’t say if he liked it or not.  If you’ve never seen a Nicholas Sparks movie or you have and have no clue what’s going to happen, take Kleenex.  Don’t be like me.  I know I sound jaded but, just once, I wish Nicholas Sparks would write a love story that has a completely happy ending.  Is that too much to ask?

And, just so we end on a good note. 

You're welcome.

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