There's something comforting about watching a movie that comes from noted schlock master Nicholas Sparks. Two attractive people will find each other in coastal North Carolina, fall in love, overcome the obstacle that stands in the way of their love, experience tragedy, and, at some point, get drenched in some sort of sexy rainstorm.
So it goes in The Choice, the newest entry into the Sparks canon, following such romantic weepies (rom-wees?) as The Notebook and The Longest Ride. Havertown-born and -raised director Ross Katz directs Teresa Palmer (her mother-in-law is Philadelphia homeless-advocate Cheri Honkala) and Benjamin Walker (his former mother-in-law is Meryl Streep) as the two hotties in question who fall in love and elicit the necessary tears.
Med student Gabby (Palmer) moves in next door to good ol' boy (and town vet) Travis (Walker). They initially bristle at each other's differences, but eventually fall for each other, despite their respective romantic attachments. It's those romantic attachments - and the tragedy that inevitably befalls them - that inform the movie's title, and its ensuing themes. Life is made up of choices, we're told, whether they be big or small, they affect us in ways we can't even imagine.
The formula for The Choice is securely in place, so if you're looking for a reason to watch pretty people and cry, then, by all means, head to the theater. But it pales in comparison to other Sparks works, especially when it gets into medical-ethics territory. Gabby and Travis aren't as a tragic, their romance not as storied. They can't hold attention as much as some of their predecessors.
That's no fault of the actors, especially Walker, who is charming as all get-out, thickly slathered-on Southern accent and all. Palmer doesn't fare as well, but her part is considerably less likable. She starts out as a joyless nag, then she cheats on her fiance (Smallville's Tom Wellington) with Travis (he's less attached than she is), and we're still asked to like her and root for her. Palmer does her best, but it's not easy-going.
So if our lives are made up of a series of choices, you have one in front of you regarding The Choice? The right one, of course, is to just go rent The Notebook again.