Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book vs. Movie:: The Choice

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of reading books before their movies are released. The first big book adaptation on my radar this year was The Choice. The latest film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Choice centers around Travis Parker, a good-natured man living in small-town North Carolina, and Gabby Holland, his new next-door neighbor. In typical Sparks-fashion, the two quickly fall in love and their worlds are forever turned upside-down and they are confronted with a life-changing choice.

So, how does the movie stack up to the book?

Characters:: In the book, Travis is written to be this mild-mannered, down-home country boy. He is devoted to his friends and family, but he is still relatively reserved and likes to keep to himself. The movie version of Travis (played by Benjamin Walker) was basically the total opposite of this. He came off as quite arrogant and obnoxious, especially at first. When he first meets Gabby in the movie, he is convinced she is into him and it was pretty off-putting. He is constantly cracking jokes and never seems to take things seriously. Movie Travis was like a completely different character than the much more endearing version presented in the book.

While Gabby (played by Teresa Palmer) was a bit better represented than Travis, she still lacked a lot of the qualities that made book-Gabby a good character.  Most notable was her lack of development.  In the book, she was very mindful of the fact that she was cheating on her boyfriend with Travis, and felt a lot of guilt about it.  In the movie, there seemed to be none of that.  She never wrestled with her feelings and seemed to have her mind made up just like that. She, like Travis, also suffered from being a little too over-the-top and obnoxious on screen.  I wanted to like them and root for their relationship, but it just fell flat for me.

On the bright side, Travis' sister, Steph (Maggie Grace), was portrayed very well, and her character was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film.  

Plot:: Similar to any Nicholas Sparks story, The Choice is about two characters who meet and, soon after, fall in love. Books are typically better at conveying this process and how it takes place over a period of time, and that was definitely the case here. The movie plot of Travis and Gabby falling in love felt so rushed. It seemed like it took just a couple of days and they were already completely in love, and she was all set to leave her long-time boyfriend with zero regrets. Conversely, the book did a much better job portraying how she struggled with her feelings for a while before ultimately making her choice.

Another aspect that differed quite a bit from the book was the inclusion of Travis' ex-girlfriend Monica (Alexandra Daddarrio).  In the book, she was only mentioned very briefly, but ended up playing a pretty big part in the movie.  I thought this was an odd choice, and only seemed to add more "Hollywood drama" that wasn't necessary.  Along those lines, Gabby's Boyfriend and Travis also had much more interaction in the movie than they did in the book which also seemed included in order to simply add more drama.

Setting:: Another staple of a Sparks story is the coastal North Carolina setting. Once again, The Choice follows this pattern – and the movie adapts it successfully. This was one of the aspects I enjoyed most about the movie. The scenery was gorgeous, and it really seemed to nail that small-town, coastal feeling. I got the impression that this was a tight-knight, "everyone knows everyone" type of community, just how it was in the book.

Winner::  Book
In the end, there was really no comparison.  As usual, the book comes out on top.  The characters in the movie felt way off, the plot was rushed, and I was just left ultimately disappointed when the credits rolled.  If you were a fan of the book, I would not recommend seeing this movie in theaters -  instead I would wait for Redbox or Netflix.

There are still a few more book adaptations coming out this year that I am looking forward to including Me Before You, and The Girl on the Train.  So far, everything I've seen from these movies has got me excited so hopefully they don't disappoint!  What book adaptations are you looking forward to seeing this year?


Emily Ann

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