The Best Of Me

The Best Of Me

In Theatres: 
Oct 17, 2014
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 57 Minutes

Paul Walker was originally cast as Dawson Cole but James Marsden was brought on after Walker's unfortunate passing.

Romantic comedies get a bad reputation. Some even call it the easiest kind of film to make. Throw a couple of attractive people on screen, have them cry for half of the run time, end it on a light note and you've got yourself a classic RomCom. Well, that's what the general consensus seems to be. I can't comment on how difficult filmmaking can be, regardless of how much easier it might be for certain genres. But what truly matters is how entertaining and well done the film is. Unfortunately, a Nicholas Sparks movie isn't going to excel in either of those categories and The Best of Me is not an exception to his trend.
Based on a novel written by Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me takes place over the span of 21 years in rural Louisiana. Dawson Cole (James Marsden) has recently survived an explosion and believes fate has a plan for him. He travels back to his hometown when he hears about the passing of his father-figure, Tuck (Gerald McRaney). While in town, he runs into the love of his life, Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) and recalls the history they had together 21 years prior. As teenagers, Dawson (Luke Bracey) was a quiet outcast with a less than favorable home life. It's easy to see why he would rather spend all of his time with Amanda (Liana Liberato), the only person who seems to understand Dawson. After a horrible accident, the two are separated and must make decisions that will change them forever. Were they better off for the decisions they made? 
Let's get the good out while I have it fresh in my mind: James Marsden is criminally underused in Hollywood. He's the rare type that can kill in any genre but somehow falls by the wayside. Here, Marsden is asked to bring out the charm in a troubled character and he does it in spades. I truly believed his story and was wrapped up in his journey solely due to his acting. Likewise, Michelle Monaghan is enjoyable as Amanda, although she has much less to play with than Marsden. Most of her emotional journey is told throughout a monologue than visuals. This seems strange as the movie clearly isn't against flashbacks seeing as half the movie is a flashback. Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato do well in selling the romantic nature of teen love and have a genuine chemistry together. Again, however, Bracey is given so much to work with that Liberato seems to be there to play off of him whenever they are together. Regardless, both couples work well together and sell the drama. 
Sadly, that's where the good ends. Strap in, because this is going to get rough. 
I've never read a Nicholas Sparks novel so it's difficult to say if the blame is on him or the screenwriters who adapt his novel for the movies but someone is playing a giant game of madlibs and it's starting to annoy the life out of me. 
The formula is simple:
-Introduce wealthy/innocent woman
-Meet with troubled/misunderstood/bad boy.
-Unlikely romance blooms.
-Disaster strikes, tests relationship.
-Someone must die (The more bodies, the more tears!).
The End!
I can forgive two movies but now it's getting ridiculous. It's become less of a trademark for Sparks and more of laziness. I guess it's difficult to break a trend when it continues to make as much money as it has but it shadows any interest I have in catching anything with Sparks' name attached. 
Outside of Dawson, Amanda and Tommy, Dawson's father (Whom I actually enjoyed the drama of way more than I would have thought), every character exists as a one-note plot point rather than a separate person. You've got the grumpy old man who believes in Dawson when no other adult would, the father who judges his daughters' choices, the absent, alcoholic husband who doesn't appreciate his wife, the list goes on. They don't receive any counseling or redeem themselves in any way. They are solely there to amp up the drama and it comes across as lazy and in no way believable. 
The Best of Me goes on for about half an hour longer than it should and as a result, it goes from a completely middle of the road romantic drama to one of the most outlandish movies I have ever seen. I won't ruin it for anyone who wants to truly experience it for themselves but The Best of Me contains what is easily the most farfetched and ridiculous ending to a movie that I have ever seen. About 15 minutes before it ended, I leaned over to my Fiancee' and whispered "Whew, I thought they were going to do something completely stupid with this movie". Sure enough, they wrapped back around and tied the dumbest, most idiotic knot in what was otherwise a somewhat decent drama of a thread. I couldn't help but laugh at what was happening on screen and would suggest The Best of Me solely for the ending it tries to sell you. Anything I may have enjoyed before the credits rolled no longer held any merit and it's a shame because it reminded me how great Marsden can be. When the movie has been out for a week or so, I'd love to revisit this post and discuss everything that's wrong with the last half hour of the movie but I will resist solely for those who are genuinely interested in it.
The Best of Me features some great performances and excellent chemistry but suffers from sterotypical characters and an idiotic ending that almost insults the audience. Oh and don't worry, they totally say the name of the movie in the movie because Nicholas Sparks. 
Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
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