Nicholas Sparks books and the movies they spawn are complete and utter fantasies. Not in the Harry Potter sense, but in the this-is-an-entirely-unrealistic-and-implausible- scenario kind of way. Think: an attractive female facing hardship in a waterside southern locale who just needs the love of a good, strong-but-silent, self-made man who's good with his hands to make her whole. No obstacle — be it cancer, domestic violence, military service, creepily having the other person’s photograph/love letters, or even death — is too great for the two lovers to overcome.
Even if they only get one glorious night of relationship consummation together, that’s all they need. Also, everyone’s always sexin’ when it’s raining. The symbolism of it all is oppressive.
It’s a formula laden with issues, the most central being that Sparks’ works always focus on a white, heterosexual couple. For all it's flaws, however, the formula translates into financial success. To date, Nicholas Sparks movies have grossed over $455 million at the box office. Add on the fact that people like me can’t resist purchasing The Notebook on DVD when it’s in the bargain bin at Target (although it's sat in shrink-wrap for three years now since the movie’s always on TV anyway), and you’ve got yourself a number surging towards $1 billion.
Today marks the release of the latest film based on a Sparks novel, The Best of Me. Everyone’s got romance and James Marsden’s ridiculously chiseled jaw on the brain, so it feels like the perfect time to take stock of the Sparksean canon in all its unbelievable, saccharine, against-all-odds, romantic glory.