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The Notebook (2004)

May 13, 2010

6/10 Good Boyfriend Points

About as good as anything by Nick Sparks is ever gonna get.

The Notebook is about two old fogies in a nursing home, one of whom has dementia and doesn’t even know who she is, the other being sharp as a tack and fit as a whistle. In the hopes to get this gal’s memory cells fired up again, gramps begins reading her a story about a rich Southern belle who falls for a blue collar boy from the bayou over the course of one Summer whose love is put to the test as her parents do everything in their power to put a stop to all this socioeconomic inbreeding. Turns out that the story’s about 600 pages long and it takes pops all day to read it, but since he’s the nicest stranger in the world, he keeps on truckin’ like the trooper he is so that this lovely lady can find out how these two kooky kids wind up sucking face in the rain.

Yup, it’s a chick flick, no surprise there, but when you consider that Nick Sparks is also the guy behind Message in a Bottle, Dear John, The Last Song and a couple other menopausal/teeny bopper sobfests that I hope I never have to watch, The Notebook is actually at the top of the heap. Not to say that this is good enough to warrant what seems like every girl on Earth to have heart palpitations every time this turns up on TBS, but it has its saving graces.

The most notable of these being the cast.

To be honest, I have no idea how the producers pulled together the cast that they did for this one, because there are some big timers here. Bringing James Garner, Joan Allen, Sam Shepard and Gena Rowlands (one of my all-time favs) into one space doesn’t happen every day, folks, and they’re all pretty good in their respective roles. And even though Mean Girls came out that same year and it wasn’t until Half Nelson that I fell in love with the guy, this was a pretty big stepping stone for Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. She’s good as Allie, she’s very graceful in the role, and he’s good as Noah, and he grows a kickass beard to boot.

Those two made a good couple, got me into their story more than I probably should have.

But as far as everything else is concerned, eh, it’s pretty standard tearjerky stuff. Nick Cassavetes (son of the great John Cassavetes) films it with the beauty of a Lifetime motion picture event, Sparks’ script is out to make us all cry by writing the same the story he always writes and don’t be surprised if every plot prediction you’ve already thought up by looking at that poster comes true two hours later. The good thing is that for all these flaws, it’s not overly-corny to the point where all is lost, but then again, a lot of the credit goes to the cast on that one.

Look, The Notebook really isn’t my thing, but it still ain’t bad thanks to a decent story that’s elevated by a better cast, and there’s also that whole bro crush on Ryan Gosling I’ve got going on. There are far better chick flicks out there and there are far better stories to be told, but, fellas, there are far worse things to be subjected to on movie night and, who knows, you might just like it. Just be grateful you’re not watching Nights in Rodanthe.

And, ladies…enjoy.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. 150hikes permalink
    May 13, 2010 3:48 am

    What is it with guys and Ryan Gosling? 😉

    I have never seen this flick, don’t want to. It’s enough I watched ‘Dear John’ (*shudders*). I gotta say though, ‘Message in a Bottle’ isn’t that bad a film, for Sparks anyway.

    And I’m still surprised at the generosity of your point system. 6 points for a movie you didn’t like? I wonder if I will ever see you give out a 4 or dare I say, a 2 😉

    • May 13, 2010 7:31 am

      Hahaha, I’ve given out my fair share of painfully low scores, but I did like this movie despite my skeptical tone. Sorry you had to see Dear John, that couldn’t have been good. And thanks for visiting!

  2. May 13, 2010 6:42 am

    ‘I’ll be John Cassavetes… you’ll be Gena Rowlands’… great song.
    yeah, normally im a real sucker for this kind of mushy crap (i like Beaches, for fuck’s sake) but i just didnt get the hype about this.
    its not a bad tale but your 6 out of ten is a fair mark i think
    was i meant to be shocked at the end when it turned out the old couple were also the young couple? if i was, i should have prepared for the shock four minutes after the film started

  3. May 13, 2010 9:16 am

    I never watched The Notebook, but I did watch Message in a Bottle out of curiosity once — it could’ve been worse, really. As a lady, I do like meself a good Jane Austen, etc. every now and then, but Nicholas Sparks.. nah. I didn’t cry at the end of Message — it’s like in The Horse Whisperer: the wonderful guy dies (it seems happy endings were not in fashion at the time), we get it (although the latter was written by Nicholas Evans, not Sparks; but I think they were published around the same time. And The Horse Whisperer didn’t get me to cry, either).

    Oh, and that: “[…] menopausal/teeny bopper sobfests […]” had me in hysterics, thank you!

    • May 13, 2010 9:40 am

      Haha, you’re welcome. Think I’ll skip The Horse Whisperer, but I’m surprised at how non-terrible the comments about Message in a Bottle are. Might be able to tolerate that one.

  4. May 13, 2010 10:41 am

    How can someone churn so much sap. Whenever I hear something is by Nicholas Sparks…its for sure a love story, where usually one of the lovebirds die…incredibly predictable. At least in the Notebook…both of them lived…though Allie’s mind deteriorates…I guess some part somewhere has to die. But overall I rather liked the Notebook.

  5. May 13, 2010 10:52 am

    Sparks… This Town Aint Big Enough For The Both Of Us! great song
    one of the few good things about Kick-Ass

  6. Uncle Fran permalink
    May 13, 2010 11:03 am

    What’s up Aiden? I haven’t seen this one but I see your readers have been mentioning “Message in a Bottle”, it wasn’t bad, great Maine scenery too (although they’re trying to make you believe it’s North Carolina). Kevin Costner is his usual self but a good performance by Paul Newman.

    Hey, we haven’t seen you around much since you trashed “Shutter Island”. No need to go into hiding, you’re still welcome down at the Legion.

    • May 13, 2010 11:06 am

      Didn’t know Newman was in Message in a Bottle. Man, this thing’s sounding better by the minute.

      Haha, and thanks for the invite to the Legion Hall, I should actually be around this weekend for a party my friend’s throwing in Newington, might just have to make an appearance.

      • 150hikes permalink
        May 13, 2010 5:11 pm



      • May 13, 2010 5:15 pm

        oh my. those comments by 150hikes was me, btw.

  7. May 13, 2010 11:05 am

    I enjoyed the Notebook. I’m man enough to say it’s one of the very few movies that really got to me 🙂 Sure it’s mushy, a bit corny and predictable but that movie really revived the old-fashioned romantic drama (this is why there is all those crappy Sparks movie) coming out every year now. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you still have to admire the unapologetic direction by Nick Cassavetes and the excellent performances from the cast who made this movie much better than it should have been.

    • May 13, 2010 11:08 am

      I don’t know about that unapologetic direction there, but I’m with you on that last point about the cast. I feel like there’s gonna be a big ol’ communal crying session any minute now.

  8. May 13, 2010 11:08 am

    Yeah out of all the Nicholas Sparks adaptations, this and surprisingly A Walk to Remember (don’t call me gay), were two of my favorites. This is the better one mostly because he lets the cast do what they need to do to get the job done.

    • May 13, 2010 11:10 am


      • May 13, 2010 12:17 pm

        Hahaha, oh man. Yeah, I have to agree that The Notebook is a pretty solid movie. I can’t stand A Walk to Remember, but if I feel like curling up and crying to one tear jerker… I guess I’m going with The Notebook… or Atonement, but that’s no Sparks story, obviously…

      • May 13, 2010 12:20 pm

        Atonement’s on a whole ‘nother level. Damn good movie.

    • May 13, 2010 5:17 pm

      A Walk to Remember?
      Oh my. Probably the worst movie I have ever seen.

  9. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    May 13, 2010 12:49 pm

    I am a chick and I did not enjoy it. Ryan Gosling is capable of so much more, although I’ll grant that he and Rachel McAdams had some smokin’ chemistry (shocking, right?).

    • May 18, 2010 10:11 pm

      I’m with you on this one, M, so definitely NOT every girl on Earth have heart palpitations on this one. Still, this is a darn good review, Aiden, better than the movie itself! I’m a crier but for some reason I only cried once or twice during a couple of scenes of the older couple, who affected me more than Gosling & McAdams. I do have to agree that the cast elevates this more than it could’ve been otherwise.

  10. Ryan permalink
    May 13, 2010 12:53 pm

    Atonement was terrible. Just absolutely terrible. Bad cast, bad acting, boring story. I thought The Notebook was a pretty good movie. I thought it was a good balance between a typical chick flick and an actual drama.

    • May 13, 2010 1:03 pm

      Ouch. Something tells me you’re not gonna dig my eventual review.

      • May 18, 2010 10:13 pm

        Looking forward to reading your Atonement review Aiden, sounds like we’ll be in agreement on that awesome flick.

  11. May 13, 2010 5:08 pm

    Come on M Carter, we all know youre not the typical chick flick – you like shit to blow UP. im more of a chick than you are

  12. May 13, 2010 5:38 pm

    The Notebook is the only all-out, mushy lovey-dovey romance that I admit to ADORING. If you don’t cry at least twice during this movie, you have no soul. Ryan and Rachel kill these roles. The fact that they’re walking around my city NOT TOGETHER kills me.

  13. May 13, 2010 6:31 pm

    Was pleasantly surprised with this film. I never intended to watch it (I thought it’d have Danielle Steele feel to it!), but I caught it on the television back in 2008 and was drawn into the story also a little more than I should have been. I’m not sure I’d watch it again, but I agree – it’s definitely not the worst tearjerker out there.

  14. May 14, 2010 1:09 pm

    Rachel MacAdams is just so nice to look at though, isn’t she?

  15. May 16, 2010 5:30 am

    I never, ever cry at films, but I shed buckets of tears at this one. There is no way in hell you’ll catch me watching it a second time, I just couldn’t hack it! So sad…

  16. May 16, 2010 10:45 am

    I thought it was a good movie overall, but at many different points it lost me, and it’s over-sentimentality and melodrama was a bit much for my blood, but the performances were done very well, and the ending did definitely strike a chord. A good romance film, but not one that’s going to bring me around to the romance movie side. Give me my lasers and shit.

  17. May 17, 2010 4:12 pm

    i….hate…..this……movie……and I think mcadams is waaaaaaay over rated

  18. May 19, 2010 5:48 pm

    I found this a clever little love story and I liked the ending, thought it was hopeful as opposed to depressing which seems to be the general concensus.

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