Nicholas Sparks — everyone’s favorite purveyor of highly-commercialized, schlocky melodramatic love stories — has another film adaptation coming out on Oct. 17. This one is called The Best of Me and it follows Dawson and Amanda, who fall in love in high school but are robbed of their future together by some entirely avoidable and assuredly tragic circumstances. Now they are rediscovering each other as adults. Yep. This one looks like a barn-burner.
In honor of yet another mediocre romance novel getting adapted into yet another mediocre film, here is how every Sparks film ends. Let’s see if we can crack his ingenious code.
Message in a Bottle (1997)
So Robin Wright plays Teresa, a former reporter who finds a message in a bottle in Cape Cod from Garrett (Kevin Costner) to his dead wife. Without telling Garrett she knows he’s the writer of the love letter, the two begin a relationship which is going great, until Garrett discovers Teresa has used his love letter for an article. He gets upset and leaves. A year later, Dodge (Paul Newman, who has no business in this film) visits Teresa and tells her that Garrett died. Of course, he died while doing something selfless and he left a message in a bottle for Teresa this time. Regret. True love. Lots of messages in bottles.
A Walk to Remember (2002)
After getting caught pranking someone in high school, Landon (Shane West) is forced to participate in several after-school activities, which is a very convenient and completely unrealistic punishment. While rehearsing for the school musical, he meets Jamie (Mandy Moore). The two fall in love and Mandy Moore’s character admits she has leukemia. The two fulfill a bunch of stuff Jamie has always wanted to do. The two even get married and Jamie dies shortly after. But Landon is a better person. A trend is surfacing here.
The Notebook (2004)
Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) meet in 1940 on an island in North Carolina. They have a summer fling, but it ends with Allie’s departure. This is all relayed from Duke reading to Allie, who is an older woman with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home. The two are, ahem, separated by years, World War II, yada yada. They get back together as adults and rekindle their love. We discover that Duke is in fact Noah as an old man. Long story short, the two died peacefully together. Okay, so someone MUST die at the end and star-crossed lovers almost always must be circumstantially separated for years. Got it.
Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
Adrienne (Diane Lane) and Paul (Richard Gere) meet each other at a bed-and-breakfast. Adrienne is running the place for a friend and Paul is a surgeon in town to face the family of patient who died in his care. The two fall in love and protect the seaside B-and-B from a storm. Paul feels emotions. Adrienne feels emotions. Paul decides to reunite with a son he has neglected. Before the two can rekindle their love, Paul dies in a mudslide (WHAT). But Adrienne is a better person. So we need to add a seaside setting to the equation.
Dear John (2010)
John (Channing Tatum) meets Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) in Charleston, South Carolina. Yes, near the beach. They fall hopelessly in love. Savannah wants to start a riding camp for kids with autism. John joins the army and leaves. Savannah marries her friend Tim. John’s dad might have autism. Savannah abandons her dream of starting a riding camp for kids with autism. Tim dies of lymphoma and the two reunite outside a coffee shop. Okay. At least this one has a remotely happy ending?
The Last Song (2010)
Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) and Will (Liam Hemsworth) meet in a scenic beachside Georgia town. Apparently, Ronnie is prodigy on the piano. They save turtles together. Her father, also a musician, has stomach cancer. I guess a church is burned and Ronnie is framed for shoplifting. Anyway, her father dies and she finishes a song of his, which she plays at the funeral. Ronnie decides to go to Julliard and Will goes to Columbia. So yeah, New York love. Would it kill you to have one of these take place in Chicago? Or Reno?
The Lucky One (2012)
Logan (Zac Efron) meets Beth (Taylor Shilling) near the Louisiana delta. Logan found her picture while on duty in Iraq and came to convey how her picture helped him. Beth has a son named Ben. Her ex-husband, Keith, doesn’t like Logan. A storm comes and Keith dies while saving Ben. Logan and Beth and Ben all fix up a boat and everything is perfect. Okay, so a storm is a recurring challenge. As is people dying in natural disasters. Also, war veterans keep cropping up.
Safe Haven (2013)
Katie (Julianne Hough) meets Alex (Josh Duhamel) in Southport, North Carolina. Another effing seaside community. Katie’s past is a mystery. Alex is a widower with two kids. Katie’s real name is Erin, and it’s revealed she escaped her abusive alcoholic husband Kevin in Boston. But Kevin is back. Alex’s general store is burned down. Kevin dies. Alex and Erin live happily ever after. Oh, and Alex’s wife makes a ghostly appearance. So there’s that.
So, The Best of Me is out Oct. 17 and it will likely involve teenage love, years separated, war veterans, big storms, someone dying, and possibly ghosts… all at some seaside town in the South.