The Best of Me (2014) Blu-ray Review: Another Dopey Romance from Nicholas Sparks

One thing is certain, Nicholas Sparks is the king of romance. Guys, if you are rolling your eyes, you should be. Sparks writes the most manipulative and frankly ludicrous plots I have ever seen. And to continue my crass generalizations, chicks eat this stuff up like candy. The author of such weepers as Message in a Bottle (1999) and The Notebook (2004) is back with The Best of Me (2014). With the new Blu-ray “Tears of Joy” edition, we actually get two movies for the price of one. The disc includes both the theatrical version (1:57) and the “Tears of Joy” edition, which tacks on a happy ending (1:55). Oh yes, there is also a digital copy to watch the picture on your mobile device. Heaven knows, there is enough of The Best of Me to go around.

Your humble reviewer actually spent nearly four hours of his life watching both versions of the film, even though I knew what was ahead within the first ten minutes. Dawson Cole (James Marsden) is the love of Amanda Collier’s (Michelle Monaghan) life, and the one who got away. Well, he didn’t really get away. He went to prison because of an accidental shooting for which he took full responsibility. That happened many years ago, and the earlier period is enacted with Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato playing the younger Dawson and Amanda respectively. When Dawson did not allow her to visit him in prison or “wait for him,” she reluctantly moved on, and is now married (with children) to Harvey Collier (Jon Tenney).

Gerald McRaney steals the film as a man named Tuck. As a young man, Dawson is having major problems with his family. His father and brothers are involved in what appears to be bootlegging or meth cooking, or both. In any case, it is nasty stuff, and Dawson wants out. When he runs away from home, Tuck takes him in. The Best of Me opens in the present, with Dawson and Amanda listening to the reading of Tuck’s will. He gives the two of them his cabin, the place where they shared their love for the first time. Tuck is reaching out from the grave, because he knows that these two were meant to be together forever. At least that is what the romance-guru who I watched the film with said.

Rather than spoil the ending, let me just say that the theatrical version of the film ends tragically, albeit with an interesting twist that allows Dawson to be with Amanda forever. Or at least the best part of him lives on. The “Tears of Joy” edition warms the heart, but it makes the whole story kind of pointless.

There are plenty of extras, although how useful they are is questionable. For those looking for an in-depth analysis of the film, you need to look elsewhere. First up in the bonus department are five deleted scenes (9:46). Next are interview segments conducted by Nicholas Sparks. In the first, he interviews Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden (2:47), and the second session features Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato (2:18). We also get the music video for the song “I Did” by Lady Antebellum (3:28). Commentary on the theatrical version only is provided by director Michael Hoffman.

Then comes preview mania. Along for the Ride is set to be Spark’s latest opus, and we get a 1:53 trailer for it. Oh yeah, we get the theatrical trailer for The Best of Me also (1:21). And for those gluttons for punishment, there is an entire “Sneak Peak” section in the extras, which previews seven films for over fifteen minutes.

The theatrical version of The Best of Me is as big a tearjerker as I have ever seen and should appeal to romantic teen girls who just love a Romeo and Juliet-type story. To be honest, I am still crying over having spent nearly four hours of my life watching this dopey romance.

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Greg Barbrick

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