The Choice

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
The Choice Movie Poster Image
Womanizer trades up for true love in Nicholas Sparks weepie.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Go after what you want, or you may lose it. Opposites can attract. On the other hand, supports the romantic cliche that distaste sometimes foretells love.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Love transforms a womanizer into a loyal, one-woman man. A woman cheats on her boyfriend by having an affair with another man, whom she eventually marries.


A slow-motion car crash is seen, but no blood is shown. A man gets punched. A character's mother died of cancer when he was young. A vet replaces a child's dead pet lizard with a live one rather than explain the death. Grief and tragedy are key themes of the movie.


Passionate kissing. A man sweeps a table clear and lays his partner down on it; the intention is clearly to have sex, but only kissing is shown -- also, her blouse is unbuttoned to reveal her belly, and he takes his shirt off. A pregnant dog is discussed. A male dog's owner jokingly discusses his dog's using "protection." Men ogle women. Some skimpy outfits.


"S--t," "ass," "dork," "knocked up," "balls," "stink ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol (beer).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Choice is based on the same-named Nicholas Sparks novel and, like most of the movies based on his books, is a three-hanky romantic drama. The "choice" of the title refers (potential spoiler alert!) in part to a loving husband's dilemma regarding the extraordinary measures keeping his comatose young wife alive after a car crash (it's shown in slow motion). The agony of his grief may be difficult for younger viewers. Sexual attraction is another theme, with characters kissing passionately and the implication of sex (shirts are partially/completely removed, but there's no graphic nudity). A character's past as a womanizer is discussed; women wear bikinis, and and men ogle women. Language includes "s--t" and "ass"; adults drink beer. A man gets punched, and there's discussion of the fact that a character's mother died of cancer when he was young. A believer and a non-believer discuss the existence of God good-naturedly.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byChristine5464 May 16, 2019

Gabby was good but...

Formulaic, tear jerker, but casting for the guy was a total miss for me and my daughter. The story wasn't his best. We had fun watching together. She was... Continue reading
Adult Written byBonnie B. August 28, 2017

A tearjerker

I personally loved it and watched it twice right away!!!! I love a good romance and both characters played their parts to a tee!!!!
Teen, 15 years old Written byaverylynn July 24, 2016
Kid, 9 years old May 3, 2016

Heartbreaking and entertaining but predictable romance drama is OKAY for teens.

This heartbreaking drama is about a medical student named Gabby, who recently moved to North Carolina. While she's there, she meets a young, handsome, but... Continue reading

What's the story?

True love is a choice, THE CHOICE seems to suggest. Travis (Benjamin Walker) plays the role of good ol' North Carolina boy with a gift for flirting and a penchant for partying on his boat. When his pretty new neighbor, Gabby (Teresa Palmer), a cantankerous medical student, moves in next door, he's smitten -- and cute arguments and confrontations (predictably) ensue. Gradually Travis is revealed to be a solid guy: He's a local veterinarian with a good heart who loves animals and nature. When Gabby's boyfriend leaves town, she and Travis fall into an intense affair that's interrupted by the boyfriend's return. Playboy Travis declares his love, but tragedy brings their idyll to a halt.

Is it any good?

Based on Nicholas Sparks' same-named novel, this is a formulaic, cliched tearjerker. It blends chaotic direction by Ross Katz, a star in over her head, and a poorly structured script full of obvious foreshadowing and words of wisdom that aren't terribly wise. "Most precautions aren't necessary. That's why we call 'em precautions." Huh? Or, "Life just keeps unfolding. If you sit still, it will pass you by." And, best of all: "A man with one chair likes to sit alone."

Without getting too far into spoiler territory, the ending reveals one element of foreshadowing that should have been highlighted more emphatically early in the script but wasn't. The one standout is Walker's performance as Travis; the actor miraculously brings depth to nearly inutterable dialogue -- and reality to a story that would otherwise fit best into the cookie-cutter mold of a Lifetime Channel triviality.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Choice's messages. Do you think it's important to take risks sometimes? What could the consequences be -- positively or negatively?

  • Do you think love at first sight exists? How does the movie portray romantic/sexual relationships?

  • Do you think you'd be able to make the choice that Travis faces?

  • Author Nicholas Sparks is known for weepy, heartbreaking stories with life-and-death twists. How does this adaptation compare to others based on his books?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romantic dramas

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate