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'The Choice' Review: White Nonsense

By TK Burton | Film | February 5, 2016 |

By TK Burton | Film | February 5, 2016 |

This review will contain spoilers because fuck you.

For those who have been living in blissful ignorance, Sparks has spent the last 20 years churning out diabetes-inducing romantic dramas, publishing 18 novels, almost all of which have been adapted into films. While I can’t speak to the novels themselves, I’ve had the misfortune — thanks to a certain absolute shit-shoveling hell-mine of a job — of seeing about a third of those adaptations. They have all been on a spectrum of sappily average to stroke-inducingly horrific.

This brings us to The Choice, the most recent adaptation directed by Ross Kantz. It is mayonnaise on Wonder bread. It’s an egg white omelet filled with plain yoghurt. What I’m saying, in case you’re too fucking stupid to grasp the metaphors, is that it somehow manages to be bland, yet incredibly distasteful. It’s utterly predictable, shamelessly manipulative, unimaginative middle-aged white person catnip. Oh, lord, the middle-aged white people flocked to the fucking theater I was in like they were giving away free yoga classes to be held in the back seat of a Prius. I couldn’t have felt more out of place at a fucking Klan rally. And for inexplicable reasons, they lapped this shit up.

I don’t understand why. I mean, Sparks isn’t even trying anymore. At this point, he’s established his three-part story structure, and anyone capable of scooping food into their worthless goddamn face-hole should be able to predict it. Act One features two unlikely people from different worlds who meet-cute, clash adorably enough to make me want to vomit up shit and shit out vomit, and fall in love thanks to a tepid adult contemporary music track and a heatless love scene. In this case, it’s Teresa Palmer (one of those generically lovely Hollywood blondes) and Benjamin Walker (most well known for, uh, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter?) playing a medical student and a veterinarian, respectively, who become neighbors who drive each other cuh-razy! Except of course they grow to like and then love and then blandly fuck each other with lots of lukewarm shoulder kisses and eyelash-fluttering.

Act Two is generally The Secret or The Surprise or The Twist or Go Fuck An Angle Grinder, You Asshole. That’s when their pasts come back to haunt them. In this case, it’s because Palmers’ character is also dating a doctor played by Off-Brand Superman (Tom Welling) and she can’t make a choice between these two smarmy dickheads, and Walker fears commitment because his mom died when he was a kid? I think? All we know is that he likes the ladies but he doesn’t commit, which is hilarious for reasons I never quite grasped. Palmer figures this out as well as all his other secrets, because he only has one Adirondack chair and because this movie is the cinematic equivalent of dipping your balls in feces.

Speaking of Adirondack chairs, let me just take a moment to marvel at the blinding, spectacular whiteness of The Choice. It basically hits all of Sparks’ bullet points. Take place in a gorgeous, sun-dappled beach setting? Check. Everyone wearing artfully tousled khaki and linen like a mutant J Crew catalog? Checkaroo. Token black people with a couple of lines but don’t even have names? Checkers! Ridiculous jobs for the two leads? Actually, not really. Med student and veterinarian aren’t that outlandish. I usually expect one of them to work at a charming mom-and-pop store OH WAIT JUST ONE FUCKING MINUTE — Walker’s character shares a charmingly bucolic veterinary practice with his dad (what the fuck, Tom Wilkinson?) filled with quirky customers because of course he does. Where was I? Obligatory trapped-in-a-rainstorm scene where the characters don’t seem to notice because they’re in such white love that the elements don’t bother them? Check fucking mate.

ANYWAY. Act three is The Tragedy And The Redemption. In this case, Walker and Palmer have made their choice (ZING FUCK YOU), gotten married, had a couple of Baby Gap models, when suddenly BOOM CAR ACCIDENT AND SHE’S IN A COMA. And then the real choice — does he keep her on life support or pull the plug? SO MANY CHOICES, YOU GUYS. Anyway, he keeps her alive and there’s a lot of crying and voice overs and bobbing Adam’s apples while he stares into the middle distance with perfect hair. Eventually she wakes up because he built a shack on an island. Or something.

Look, I’m not gonna lie — I was drinking during the movie. But I’m pretty sure all of that happened. One thing I can tell you is that drunk or sober, The Choice is ten pounds of horseshit in a three-pound pail. It’s horrible in its saccharine blandness. The characters go nowhere, and you’re supposed to believe their motivations and actions simply because the movie wants you to, without actually showing you any kind of development. It’s criminally dull, painful to endure, and at the end of the day, all I really felt was a gross feeling of emotional manipulation coupled with misery and boredom. The hangover I’m enduring now is more pleasant.

Fuck Nicholas Sparks.

TK Burton is an Editorial Consultant. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.