Take a Drink: whenever Travis drinks a beer.
Take a Drink: for every boat.
Take a Drink: for every establishing shot.
Take a Drink: whenever a character cries .
Take a Drink: every time Travis tells Gabby she bothers him.
Take a Drink: at every random reference to Dirty Dancing.
Take a Drink: puppies!
Do a Shot: moon and stars.
Do another Shot: wind chimes.
Do another shot: for the Cialis chairs.
Pour one Out: for the cellphone (RIP).
Optional: If this doesn’t do the job fast enough for you, please reference the IMDB Plot Keywords page and take a drink for everything listed.
By: BabyRuth (Five Beers) –
The Choice is a movie about a really cool dog named Moby.
Moby lives with his owner Travis (Benjamin Walker), who’s also a veterinarian and kind of a douchebag. See, Travis is a serial flirt and commitment-phobe. He’s probably just waiting for the right girl to fall in love with or something though.
One night, Travis is hanging out in his Cialis commercial chair, drinking beer and staring at his extremely picturesque North Carolina coast view when he is rudely interrupted by Gabby (Teresa Palmer), his new next-door neighbor. Gabby is a medical student and Travis’ loud music was making it impossible for her to study. That’s actually pretty understandable because 1) it was very late and 2) he was blasting that stupid “Black Betty” song. But then Gabby accuses poor Moby of knocking up her dog Molly so all my sympathy for her goes right out the window. Moby was just minding his own damn business and we learn later that (SPOILER ALERT!) he has no balls. Perhaps Gabby should stop blaming innocent dogs and listen to Bob Barker and get her whore-dog spayed.
Anyway, this is what’s commonly known as a “meet-cute,” but there’s nothing remotely cute about it. It’s like this -Travis: “Me man! You woman! You want to make sex with me because me charming.” And Gabby’s like: “Gross, boy, cooties, yuck!” (Reminder: these are both medical professionals.) And they mention Dirty Dancing for some reason.
Travis’ sister Stephanie (Maggie Grace) pops in here and there to be all “you in twou-BUL” and “you loooove her.” She exists only to talk to Travis about his love life. If there were such a thing as a sibling Bechdel test, this movie would not pass.
Shortly after, Gabby’s boyfriend, we’ll call him Nice Cardboard Doctor Guy (Tom Welling) conveniently goes out of town for an extended period of time on doctor business and Gabby begins to warm up to Travis after he helps her with her whore-dog’s puppies. (Which, by the way, are definitely not played by newborn puppies, but they’re still cute.) Travis falls for Gabby because she’s different than all those other girls. You see, she plays hard-to-get. Kind of. Not really. She throws herself at him.
Oh, by the way, Travis has a girlfriend too, Monica (Alexandra Daddario, you know, from True Detective? With the boobs? Yeah, there you go, her.), and she’s a very nice person too. But we’re supposed to root for Gabby and Travis to get together, because true love (even though they’re both cheating garbage people) and soon enough they get it on on a kitchen table. Has anyone ever actually gotten it on on a kitchen table in real life ? Because that seems like it would be very uncomfortable.
Gabby and Travis spend all their time together, looking at the moon and stars, taking romantic rowboat rides, getting caught in the rain –you know just like that other Nicholas Sparks story. Speaking of, the people in that story apparently USED TO LIVE in Gabby’s house (it’s the Sparksiverse!) which gives the audience another opportunity to be reminded of that couple and how much Gabby and Travis are (not) just like them! Travis even gets Gabby her very own Cialis chair right next to his!
Wait, didn’t Cialis have the bathtubs? Corona had the chairs. Yeah, that’s right. I could use a Corona right now.
Everything is great until Cardboard Doctor Guy comes back from his doctor business and fickle Gabby can’t decide who she wants to be with. Is this the titular choice? No, it is not. Haven’t you seen the trailers? Over the course of what seems to be 24 hours, she attempts to break up with Cardboard Doctor Guy, but then accepts his marriage proposal, breaks off the engagement, runs back to her parents’ home, marries Travis (after being forced into it by everyone she knows) and bears two children. Not sure if or when she had the chance to finish medical school and become a doctor, but that’s no longer important. They live happily ever after!
I’m just kidding! No they don’t!
Because this is a Nicholas Sparks adaptation, you know something bad is coming. You also know because the movie opens in present day with Travis en route to a hospital blabbering on about how we all make choices and some choices affect the rest of our lives (Wow, how profound Travis. Also, no shit.) So you can pretty much figure out what’s going to happen when Gabby gets behind the wheel of her car on a rainy night (also, again, it’s in the damn trailer!), though the movie will have you believe the single most terrible thing that happens is a smartphone’s slow-motion death (seriously, it’s the most dramatic demise of a piece of machinery since Terminator 2). So Travis is left to make a choice and you’ll never guess what it is!
But this is not Travis’ story. This is Moby’s story. And I’m just going to leave it at that and not give anything more away (not that I really have because everything I just wrote is so damn obvious and predictable you could probably figure it out without even seeing the movie or reading the book).
Moby of course! And there are lots of other dogs in this movie too! One is even named John Cougar Mellencamp! And rest assured, nothing bad happens to any of them! So props to Nicholas Sparks and director Ross Katz for not using the single cheapest plot device to force unearned emotion out of an audience. They use many others, but at least they didn’t use that one.
Romantic dramas rely completely on the chemistry between the two leads. This is why, even twelve years later, The Notebook’s Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams remain the gold standard. They had it. My god, did they have it.
In case you forgot.
Well, Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer do not have it and are no Gosling and McAdams (or Swayze and Grey as the out-of-nowhere references attempt to plant that comparison as well), no matter how many similar situations their characters are put in. To be fair, the actors do try their best and are super good at crying on cue, but there’s just nothing there.
Maybe it’s because their characters are so poorly written and are not very likable. They both willfully cheat on nice, decent people who care about them. I guess Sparks was trying to change it up by not having the jilted exes reveal themselves at the eleventh hour to be awful people so we can understand why the two star-struck lovers were drawn to each other, but it backfires. They are the awful people. When Gabby’s ex-fiancée punches Travis in the face, we’re on his side.
Row row row your boat, mandatory scene.
Do I even need to mention that this movie is as pandering as all hell? It is. Musical cues, sunsets, romantic movie-speak about the moon and stars, one-way conversations with gravestones, hospital room weeping, etc, etc, etc, bleech, bleech, bleeeech. None of it ever feels genuine. But most people who go see Nicholas Sparks movies know exactly what they are getting into and will gladly eat it up, as the dozens of sniffles at my screening proved to me. (Shout out to the guy who not only made it through the entire movie, but also sat mock-concerned with his girlfriend as she composed herself after because she literally couldn’t even, I’m guessing. You’re so getting laid tonight, dude. Good work!)
For the record, I’m a woman and a damn sap and cry at pretty much anything and I didn’t tear up once.
For a movie titled The Choice, you’d think more time would be given to the actual choice in question. Now, I don’t know how much the book goes into it, but it’s treated as little more than a framing device for the backstory of how Gabby and Travis got together (yes, just like The Notebook). Without going into detail, it’s a pretty heavy topic and would make for some thought-provoking debate. But the movie is not concerned about that.
It’s also not concerned about anyone’s choices but Travis’s. As I mentioned, Gabby barely gets a say in choosing the person she should spend the rest of her life with in an unbelievably wonk-ass marriage proposal that’s supposed to draw laughs and cheers, but made me cringe and temporarily feel bad for her. Later in the film, we learn Gabby made another choice, a huge one, probably the biggest choice a person can make, and once again, it is ignored because Travis doesn’t agree with it.
Silly woman, choices are for men!
And then, in a total copout, that choice, you know, the one the entire movie revolves around Travis making? –Never. Even. Gets. Made. Because magic windchimes, I think.
Have I lost you? It doesn’t matter.
You know a movie is in trouble when the supporting characters are more interesting than the leads. This is one of those cases. And there are some decent performances here, but they’re for nothing. Tom Wilkinson is completely wasted as Travis’s father, there only to monologue out some wise old man advice every now and then. Alexandra Daddario, a bigger name draw than both the leads, is pretty much a glorified extra as Travis’s on-again-off-again-just- not-the-right-girl girlfriend. Maggie Grace fares a little better, though whoever the stylist on this movie was really should have made more of an effort to make her and Alexandra Daddario look like different people because it gets confusing at times. And with one playing his lover and the other his sister, it also gets a little weird.
There’s a small attempt to give the supporting characters storylines of their own, but then they’re dropped and never revisited. Like: How did that date between Travis’ dad and that nice lady who named her dog John Cougar Mellencamp go? Who is Stephanie’s new husband/babydaddy? How are the obligatory black friends doing? And most importantly, who knocked up Gabby’s dog?
If you’re just jonesing for a sappy, weepy romantic drama to watch this Valentine’s Day, you have a choice: to go see this or to stay home and watch The Notebook again. Choose the latter.