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‘The Choice’: How does the latest Nicholas Sparks film rate?

To be honest, I have low expectations going into any film inspired by a Nicholas Sparks’ novel these days.

“The Notebook” will always be on my favorite movies list, but it’s been downhill for Sparks’ movie adaptations from there, with maybe one or two keepers along the way.

“The Choice,” the latest Sparks adaptation to hit movie screens, opened today, but I was able to catch a sneak peak earlier this week along with a theater full of folks, all probably hoping for the same outcome as me. Please let it be good.

I have good news and bad news to report, but let’s go over the story first.

When feisty medical student Gabby Holland (played by Teresa Palmer) moves in next door to perennial ladies’ man Travis Shaw (played by Benjamin Walker), they immediately clash over his loud music while she struggles to study. Things get more sticky when Gabby’s dog ends up pregnant and she accuses Travis’s adorable pooch of being the father. Before long, their witty banter has evolved into flirtation and, eventually, a relationship, never mind the fact Gabby is almost engaged to a hunky doctor and Travis has an on-again, off-again relationship of his own brewing in the background.

Because this is a Nicholas Sparks story, it spans a decade and traces the love affair between Gabby and Travis with a lot of sugary dialogue and flavorful characters. Naturally, their love is tested by unexpected and tragic events, while a memorable ensemble of friends and family cheer them on in a North Carolina setting.

The movie opens with Travis promising to explain the secret of life and sharing that he has an important choice to make, one he drags out telling us about for most of the nearly two-hour-long story. While some might wonder what that choice involves, most are probably more interested in whether or not they should choose to pay to see this movie.

On a scale of Good Nicholas Sparks Movie to Bad Nicholas Sparks Movie, “The Choice” falls squarely in the middle for me. It’s enjoyable enough, and not as terrible as some — yes, “The Last Song,” I’m looking at you.

Basically, “The Choice” offers a lot of the same when it comes to a Sparks story, with maybe one or two surprises that, if I’m honest, aren’t all that surprising in the scheme of things.

The acting is sometimes pretty good and sometimes atrocious. The actors playing Travis and Gabby have good chemistry, for the most part, and there’s a good ensemble of familiar character actors supporting them here.

Overall, “The Choice” won’t make a bad date night movie or a bad night out with your girlfriends, but it’s not a movie I’d suggest rushing out to see either. It’s neither really good or really bad, but a movie to catch if there’s nothing else you’re dying to see first.

“The Choice” is rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues. It’s now playing in theaters nationwide.