|For incentive, I promise this post will feature Gosling content.|
So, in honor of this weekend's premiere of The Lucky One (which yes, I'll totally be seeing tomorrow), I give you:
The Sparks Scale
Hideously Repellant: The Last Song
|It should be clear from the poster why this one blows.|
First of all, it stars Miley Cyrus. I'll give you a moment to process that. It. Stars. MILEY CYRUS. Like, in the sense that she "acts" in it, and naturally the soundtrack is filled with her stupid songs. Not only that, but the plot itself (which was "developed alongside" the film, as all good novels are) gives us all the absolute worst of Sparks cliches: we've got a terminal disease, we've got family strife, and we've got a heavy-handed Christian allegory. And it has the unmitigated gall to make national treasure Greg Kinnear show up every day and read his lines opposite, again I emphasize, MILEY CYRUS. The only saving grace is the presence of Liam "Gale" Hemsworth, but since they make him unnaturally obsessed with a lame loggerhead turtle subplot, even that brief bright spark is snuffed by crap.
Horrendously Insulting: Message in a Bottle
|Starting to notice a trend in the posters?|
The problem with this one (well, its problems are legion, but the one I'll focus on here) is the presence of Paul Newman. Paul mothereffing Newman. The film wants us to believe that the King of Cool somehow spawned a whiny, petulant, emotionally stunted Kevin Costner, and then didn't immediately drown him. Apparently, he wanted to leave that to Nicholas Sparks, who first makes us sit through a romance with Robin Wright (Penn) that is based on and almost undone by a deception so clumsy and unnecessary it feels ripped from the pages of The Babysitters Club.
Ridiculously Contrived: Nights at Rodanthe, Dear John
|Also, there's a Franco factor to consider.|
Though these two are quite different (one being firmly ensconced in the "middle-aged people get it on" genre, the other a solid entry in the "war is hell . . . on a relationship" category), they both rely on untimely death as a convenient mors ex machina to resolve pesky plot details. Nights at Rodanthe also totally plays the "girls love horses" card to suggest that Richard Gere's ghost is magic. But one must tip his hat to Dear John, for actually featuring a dying cancer patient articulating relief and excitement about his impending demise, because it means his wife will finally be able to bang Channing Tatum guilt-free. You cannot make this shit up. Unless you're Nicholas Sparks.
Delightfully Cheesy: A Walk to Remember
|She looks like the picture of health, doesn't she?|
Reasonably Acceptable: The Notebook
|Because this happens.|
Well, half of it, anyway. This is the Sparks adaptation that people more emotionally stable than I might actually own without embarrassment. This exception is mainly due to the presence of two talented and extraordinarily good looking actors when they were still willing to do anything for work (Rachel McAdams and Mr. Ryan Gosling), who also happen to have such mad chemistry that they basically light the rest of the crap movie on fire. The other half makes a typical Sparks argument that love can cure Alzheimer's Disease, which would have placed this film squarely in the "Horrendously Insulting" category, but Ryan Gosling. And "the kiss." And "I wrote you every day for a year!" Do what I do--fast forward the old people parts, and bask in the glow of a bearded Gosling wrapped only in a blanket, eaten up by torment and bitter rage.