Nicholas Sparks' Review of the Chloe Moretz Tearjerker, 'If I Stay'
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Nicholas Sparks' Review of the Chloe Moretz Tearjerker, 'If I Stay'

By Nicholas Sparks | Film Reviews | August 22, 2014 | Comments ()


As a successful novelist for the past two decades, I feel safe in saying that I’m the foremost expert on tearjerker novels turned into manipulative, cinematic weepfests. Many of you may be familiar with my work, or at least my modus operandi. I write romance novels … with a twist. The twist being that, near the end of my novels, I like to randomly kill off a major character. In general, I write love stories until I get bored with my characters, and dispatch with one so that I can bring the story to a quick end. I like to do this for two reasons: 1) because it’s fun to surprise people! and 2) because the abrupt shift in tone and the unexpected death typically makes people completely forget about the first 350 pages of my novels, and if you’d read them, you’ll understand why that’s a good thing.

Most of my novels are also made into movies, which feature either up-and-coming stars looking for an easy box-office hit, or once famous stars hoping to save their careers (or sometimes both!) Maybe you’ve seen the movie I did with Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, and the lesser Hemsworth? That was a nasty piece of business, wasn’t it? I had one with the Efron fella, and the Channing Tatum guy, too. Or maybe they were the same movie. I don’t remember. They all kind of run together in my brain. But the crowning achievement of my career, of course, is that movie where Robin Scherbatsky reveals herself to be a ghost in the end. I used to spend hours every day just popping in movie theaters and watching the audience react when I pull that out. It’s unbelievably satisfying watching a bunch of slack-jawed yokels howl with sadness.

It’s not just Nicholas Sparks porn, it’s porn for Nicholas Sparks, if you know what I mean!

Anyway, Pajiba asked me to review If I Stay because they thought I would be well suited to cover the tearjerker, and because — let’s be honest — no one else on staff would touch it.

And as a guy who has written many novels that have been turned into terrible, terrible films, I feel comfortable in saying that this is the worse than all of them. This thing is dreadful, and I’m not just saying that to make my own movies look better. In fact, I encourage you to see If I Stay, if only because you’ll appreciate that you could do worse than a Nicholas Sparks joint.

A huge part of the problem here is that, Gayle Forman — who wrote the novel — kills off most of the major characters right off the bat. That’s just bad storytelling 101. Where’s the surprise in that? Hell, where’s the fun? At least do it George Martin style, and take one character out after each act.

The one person that lives is Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz), and let me just put this out there: Do not care. I’ve seen stagnant dishwater with more life than this character, and it’s not because she’s in a coma for most of the movie, either. Eighty-five percent of the film involves flashbacks that Mia — a cello player — has of her time with her boyfriend Adam, a guy in a band. Oh my fucking God, you guys. These kids are unbelievably boring. All she talks about is playing cello and going to Juilliard, and all he talks about is his fucking shitty poseur rock band, and let me tell you. It is a shit band. You’d think they’d get some decent musicians in for the movie to lend some credibility to the fact that Adam’s band eventually gets signed to a record label, but based on what I heard of his band, I can only assume that they were signed by DEAF JAM RECORDS.

And the writing. Oy. I can’t even. I cringed so hard a few times that my face literally turned inside out. No, I don’t mean figuratively. I actually had to fold my face back into its normal position so I could continue watching the movie. It’s like somebody challenged screenwriter Shauna Cross to write an entire film, but the only words she was allowed to use were from boy-band lyrics.

And this kid they got to play the love interest, Adam? Jamie Blackley? He ain’t no Ansel Elgort, that’s for goddamn sure. Did Keanu Reeves open up a school for acting? And did this guy graduate summa cum laude? Because wow. I’ve seen wilted lettuce with more personality. Even Taylor Lautner would be like, “Dayum. Where’d you find this guy? Madame Tussauds™?”

And Chloe? Good God. If she keeps making shit like this, she’s going to need one of my movies to resurrect her career. At this point, I’m not sure I’d let near near one, unless she wanted to play, like, the daughter who unexpectedly dies in the end, which brings her boyfriend and mother together for a passionate night of grief fucking (wait. I need to write that down).

Truly, though, it’s just an insanely predictable, crap film. I could picture the final shot of the movie within the first ten minutes. I could literally see it in my mind’s eye. And it did not disappoint, and by that, I mean: It was a huge disappointment. The set up was there from the beginning: Girl decides to stop waiting for the postman to deliver the letter she was supposed to get from Juilliard admissions, goes on a drive with her parents on a snowy day, and gets in a tragic accident that kills the rest of her family. Juilliard is also the wedge that ended up coming between her and her true love in the flashbacks, but guess who arrives at the hospital soon after she is admitted?

I mean, what do you think is going to happen.

Yep. That’s what happens.

But let me tell you what I would’ve done. First of all, I wouldn’t have killed the parents before they found out their daughter got into Juilliard. That’s just f**ked up. Let them die knowing all their sacrifices were worth it, for God’s sake. There’s a lot more tears in that.

But here’s the other thing I would’ve done. In the end, she would’ve woken up from her coma, all right. And her and Adam would’ve had a big movie kiss, and everything would’ve been OK. We’d flash forward about six months. Her and Adam are living happily in New York; she’s going to Juilliard, and he’s got a little local rock band going on the side, which she plays in on occasion.

One day, they’re playing out in the park together, with a little hat with which they’re using to collect tips. And they’re jamming, and having a great time, playing one of those Mumford songs or something, where a cello might feel at home. And the Central Park crowd is really getting into it, and everyone is smiling and clapping and the birds are chirping, and a puppy dog walks by, and Mia looks out into the crowd and for a brief second, sees an image of her Mom and Dad hugging each other, smiling, proudly looking down upon what a great daughter they raised, and then BOOM. An airplane engine falls out of the sky and lands on Mia Final Destination style.

Roll credits. Collect $75 million bones at the box office.

That’s why I’m the fucking Master!

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  • jennp421

    The novel was actually kind of sweet. It's not my usual genre but it definitely worked as a tear jerker. And I don't really cry all too often although I seem to find myself tearing up at novels/movies more as I get older. Maybe I grew a heart.

  • dilwazr

    I really hope it's a commentary on what a bad writer Nicholas Sparks is that we're using "her" as a subject.

    ...Or is THIS just a commentary on what an asshole I am?

  • Berry


  • elirt

    Shouldn't there be a disclaimer?

  • Agreed. I too thought this was actually Nicholas Sparks as the styles are virtually identical.

  • "he daughter who unexpectedly dies in the end, which brings her boyfriend and mother together for a passionate night of grief fucking"

    Is Nicholas Sparks stealing plot lines from adult movies now? Brazzers his co-writers?

    /not that I'd know
    //OK, maybe I'd know

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Kinda gives a whole 'nother layer of meaning to the term "misery porn".

    No, don't bother. I'll get my coat and leave now.

  • Berry

    Hey Nick... May I call you Nick? Whatever, I'm still gonna. Do you still think you don't write romances, because those are formulaic crap, unlike your novels which are high art?

  • Holly Martins

    Hey! Keanu Reeves is awesome! He's my favorite log!

    And by all accounts he sounds like a truly decent person.

  • stella

    He took like a massive paycut so they could pay all the crew members on one of the matrix movies. I think that's pretty cool.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Ever since I read about all the personal tragedies this man has had to live with I stopped mocking his acting style.

    The consensus seems to be that he's pretty much the most low-profile and generously gracious star in Hollywood. Plus, he may not be the most expressive actor in the world but he's got a calm and reassuring on-screen presence, which a ton of modern leading men seem to lack.

    But I digress, great review, Mr. Sparks.

  • With the things that have happened to him, I'm amazed he ever gets up in the morning. I've never found the "Sad Keanu" meme entertaining, because, damn.

  • Holly Martins

    I think he's the kind of actor who works well with certain kind of roles but hasn't a great range. I do find a lot of his choices interesting, as well as stuff he has produced.
    But when he's miscast, it's mmh.. It really doesn't work. See Bram Stocker's Dracula. (Though one must say he had the most boring part in that movie)

  • Classic

    I knew this would be crap based on the previews and I'm glad to see it confirmed.

  • Zuffle

    Well, that was infinitely more entertaining than the film is likely to be. Thanks (I'm guessing) Dustin.

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