A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
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