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From The Notebook to the Big Screen - Nicholas Sparks

Updated on December 31, 2009

Considering that the novels which Nicholas Sparks has written which have made in to movies have been heavily romantic, it is rather strange that I find them both enjoyable and intriguing. But so far the four movie adaptations of his novels "Message in a Bottle", "A Walk to Remember", "The Notebook" and "Nights in Rodanthe" have all found themselves into my DVD collection and captivated me in one way or another. It is most likely because whilst for the most these movies feel like any other romantic fluff which hits the big screen, they all have an unexpected twist, something which can quite honestly turn things on it's head and make you feel like you've had your beating heart ripped out from your chest. The first time you watch one of these movies the impact of the twist is emotionally stunning, even if the rest of the movie does feel a little bit generic even cliché.

So with two more adaptations of his novels due for release in 2010, "Dear John" and "The Last Song" it's a perfect time to have a recap of the four adaptations which have made it on to the big screen so far.

Message in a Bottle (1999)

"Message in a Bottle" was Nicholas Spark's second novel but the first to be adapted into a movie, one which starred Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn as well as featuring a nice supporting performance from Paul Newman. It is the tale of Theresa (Robin Wright Penn), a researcher for a Chicago paper, who discovers a message in a bottle washed up on the shore of Cape Cod. Enchanted by the romantic message she sets about discovering who sent it leading her to North Carolina where she finds grieving widow Garret Blake. A bond forms between them although she hides the fact that she discovered his message in the bottle.

For the most "Message in a Bottle" is as cliché and predictable as it comes with an unexpected romance travelling the turbulent ups and downs as most movie romances tend to do. It even has nice performances from Kevin Costner restraining his performance in fitting with a grieving widow as well as Robin Wright Penn who is lovely as widowed Theresa. But it does have the trademark twist and in some ways this could be classed as the worst of the Nicholas Sparks adaptations as you can get a sense of it coming. Though that doesn't mean it's a bad movie, in fact it is very enjoyable and the twist still leaves you with the feeling of WTF.

A Walk to Remember (2002)

"A Walk to Remember" is very different to all the other adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’s novels so far, although the storyline is trademark Sparks with a twist in its tail. What makes "A Walk to Remember" feel different is that it feels like an extended version of a teen soap such as "Dawson's Creek" or "Everwood". It's not a bad thing and I am sure that "A Walk to Remember" is a movie which aimed to target the teen audience and it achieves this, although it leaves adults a little bit bored especially with some unwanted fairytale like moments.

"A Walk to Remember" is set in the North Carolina town of Beaufort, where teen rebel Michael Landon (Shane West) has got into deep trouble and is forced to help out with after school activities as well as appear in the end of year play as his punishment. But whilst serving his punishment he gets to know Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), the beautiful daughter of Beaufort's minister. Slowly his rebellious attitude melts as an unlikely romance forms.

As already mentioned "A Walk to Remember" is a movie which feels like it's made for teen audiences and with some nice musical numbers from Mandy Moore and a few tacky fairytale like scenes it feels a little weak in comparison to other movies. But it is surprisingly charming and although it doesn't have that huge emotional impact it still keeps you on your toes wanting to know if it all ends happily ever after.

The Notebook (2004)

I would say "The Notebook" is probably the most popular of the Nicholas Sparks novel adaptations, with many fans claiming it as one of the best romantic movies ever. Well, I disagree as although it is a very good romantic movie, which will make you gush a little, it's not the greatest romantic movie of all time.

"The Notebook" is the tale of Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) who as teenagers end up in the most unlikely of romances being from different classes. But it all ends when Allie's parents decide to put an end to it and move away. Several years later they meet up again and the feelings they had for each other are rekindled despite difficult circumstances. It's a pleasant tale which an old gentleman (James Garner) reads to his aging companion in an old people's home.

As already mentioned "The Notebook" is a very good romantic movie which is trademark Nicholas Sparks with an almost generic romantic tale between different classes before delivering a twist which is and isn't unexpected. What I mean is that the twist can sort of be predicted but the outcome can't. It is indeed very good and makes "The Notebook" understandably such a popular movie especially with good performances from Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as well as those from James Garner and Gena Rowlands as the people in the retirement home. It's also the attention to detail, the period setting and the wonderful surroundings which makes "The Notebook" a very memorable movie.

Nights in Rodanthe (2008)

Now "Nights in Rodanthe" was the first adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel which I watched and is probably why I rate it quite highly, higher than many professional critics. It is quite minimal, with what is an easy to guess romance which follows a formulaic path and doesn't have the wonderful sets or huge range of characters which other movies have. But it is charming in it's simplicity, with a beautiful romantic tale, a marvellous house as a location and the trademark twist which for me left me gob smacked, well I did say it was the first of Nicholas Sparks's adaptations I had watched.

"Nights in Rodanthe" centres on Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) who whilst going through a troubled marriage heads of to the North Carolina town of Rodanthe to look after her friends hotel for a weekend. Whilst there she meets the hotels only guest Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere) a man who is having an equally troubled time. With little to do but spend time together Adrienne and Paul soon hit it off and a romance starts which will change their lives for ever.

Although I can see why many critics panned "Nights in Rodanthe" it is not a movie with out it's charm. The performances from Diane Lane along with that for Richard Gere are for the most believable and with the limited locations it is very much a movie about the characters rather than the surroundings. It is very predictable especially if you have watched any of the other Nicholas Sparks adaptations but even so the twist still hits you leaving you feeling emotionally drained, questioning why. It's this for me as to why "Nights in Rodanthe" is not a bad movie and will charm you if you allow yourself to get wrapped up in the characters and the romance.

So there you have it a brief overview of the four Nicholas Sparks movies which have been adapted on to the big screen so far. As previously mentioned there are another 2 adaptations to hit the big screen in 2010 and by the looks of the photo shoots and plot synopsis's them they will be as good as what has already been adapted. I know I can't wait for them to come out.


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      11 years ago

      I loved A Walk to Remember, both the movie and the book. I also thought that Dear John was really good too. I'm considering reading The Notebook. It was a great movie, very romantic. I curious to see just how different the book is from the movie.


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