By Cinesnark | Film | October 20, 2014 |
By Cinesnark | Film | October 20, 2014 |
The most amount of pain I’ve ever been in happened when I was 10 years old. Returning home from a vacation—which had already reached Griswoldian levels of disaster—my family stopped at a Perkins restaurant in Duluth, Minnesota. Before leaving, I went to the restroom, and for some reason, on my way out I paused in the doorway and put my hand on the frame. Then some little twerp shoved the door closed and it crushed two of my fingers. This is not actually the part that was the most painful.
The most painful part came four weeks later, when it was time for my doctor to remove the mummy bandages I got at the ER and replace them with less cumbersome splints. He unwrapped my bandages and found that, because the ER doctors forgot to put some kind of gel on my fingers, the gauze had been subsumed into the healing nail beds (I had no fingernails anymore). So my doctor had to painstakingly separate, fiber by fiber, the gauze from my nail beds. The only reason I didn’t throw up from the pain was because I couldn’t stop screaming.
So take it from me, survivor of the Mummy Finger Incident of 1992, when I say that the experience of watching the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Best of Me, is excruciatingly painful. It was a physical trial to remain in my seat for the duration of this movie. But I gutted it out, because if I can make it through Mummy Fingers, I can make it through anything. But please, don’t try this at home. Not even to be ironic. There’s not enough irony in the world to make watching this piece of shit movie OK.
Nicholas Sparks is the 21st century F. Scott Fitzgerald in that one time a rich girl was mean to him, and we’ve had to hear about it ever since. The latest rich girl is Amanda, and she loves Dawson, the beautiful but tragically poor hero of our story. [His name is really Dawson? Noooo?! — DR] What makes Dawson worth loving? He’s poor and downtrodden and pretty! What else do you want? Sparks’s characters are never deep or compelling, but at least in The Notebook, Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling had the kind of screen-burning chemistry that you can’t look away from. Young Dawson and Amanda are so bland it’s like watching wet spaghetti noodles clump together when they kiss.
Dawson’s dad is basically Bo Crowder, but there’s a loveably irascible old man, Tuck (Gerald McRaney, cashing one in), who looks after Dawson. And Amanda’s dad is a comically stereotypical rich asshole who doesn’t want Dawson to get his poor all over her. Then a bunch of shit happens—none of it matters because none of these characters are compelling, interesting, or believable in any way—and Dawson accidentally kills his best friend during a confrontation with his dad. So he goes to jail.
Usually in a Sparks story the woman is an awful whore who screws over the hero in some emotionally devastating way, but at least in The Best of Me, Amanda tries to be there for Dawson. She visits him regularly but he refuses to see her. He’s like, “No, don’t! I’m too tragic!” And eventually she goes away because FUCK IT, I HAVE SHIT TO DO.
Fast forward twenty years. Dawson is out of jail and Amanda has moved on, settling down and having children with a man who’s become boring and inattentive. (Maybe the fact that one of his children died of cancer has something to do with his emotional distance, Aman-DUH.) Then Tuck dies and something about his will means that Dawson and Amanda (now played by James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan—two actors who REALLY deserve better) must be reunited at his picturesque Southern house, because that’s the kind of thing twee elderly people do. And they spend a weekend together, reunion-boning, but in the end Amanda returns to her family because this IS a Nick Sparks story and the woman must always find some way to shit on the man’s dreams.
(SPOILERS, GLORIOUS HILARIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD)
Then some more stuff happens involving Bo Crowder and the son of that friend Dawson killed back in the day—still doesn’t matter, these still aren’t actual characters who behave in any way that resembles reality—and Dawson ends up dying. And Amanda’s surviving child is terribly injured in a car accident and Dawson’s heart saves him. Because this IS a Nick Sparks story and the man must always come through for the woman, no matter that she has Shat Upon His Dreams.
I’d rather have gauze ripped out my exposed nail beds than ever watch The Best of Me again.