The Plot Of Nicholas Sparks’ ‘The Best Of Me’ Recreated With Summaries From Scathing Reviews

One “rule” of old-fangled newspaperin’ that many writers still inexplicably cling to is the old “60% summary” rule for movie reviews. This guideine is never quite so hilarious as when applied to the dopey plots of Nicholas Sparks weepies, which can usually be explained using nothing but a good poster. So it was that the Plot Recreated With Reviews feature was born, where we try to see if we can piece together an entire movie using only summary grafs from scathing reviews.

This week brings us a perfect candidate, The Best Of Me, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, directed by Michael Hoffman (who also directed the execrable Gambit, which I did unfortunately see). Currently tracking 6% on RottenTomatoes, it’s about this:

Not that I blame any of these writers for summary, there’s only so many times you can write “maudlin.” And when you’re writing about a Nick Sparks movie, it’s not as if you have to worry about spoiling it. Now then, let’s dive in.

James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan are Dawson and Amanda. (Detroit News)

At the top of the film, a lawyer calls each lover to tell them of the death of their most trusted mutual friend, Tuck. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

We flashback to their early years and watch their love affair blossom in the face of their differences: Her family is rich, his family is made up of mentally and physically abusive drug-runners (Detroit News)

…his father a violent thug who resents his son’s interest in getting an education. (New England Movies Weekly)

This was back in more innocent times when working on an ocean oil rig seemed like a cool job for a humble grease monkey who yearned to be a physicist. (TheStar)

This was also before the damn rig exploded, tossing Dawson into the brink, but not before he’d heroically saved a couple of other lives as well as his own. He survived a fall that would have killed men of lesser destiny. (TheStar)

Gorgeous rich lass Amanda falls for gorgeous backroads boy with spectacular abs. (EW)

…a loner of few words who scored 1520 on his SATs yet settled into a blue-collar job. (

[The] rich girl’s father tries to buy Dawson off so his girl can marry a blue blood. (Phil Inquirer)

And there’s more: The handsome guy escapes his evil, drug-dealing pa to live with a Sparks specialty: the Sensitive Grizzled Old Coot whose name, naturally, is Tuck. (EW)

…a gruff yet caring former military man and widower who becomes a second father to Dawson after he runs away from home. (

Time rips them apart. Detroit News)

Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) is an upper-class housewife who dotes on her teen son and bitterly weeps over her crumbling marriage to a self-involved twerp who is an alcoholic, workaholic and all-around jerkaholic.  (

His life has become a production involving car engine repair, star-gazing, and photogenic chill-out time sitting on an oil rig, reading Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design. Hers is all unhappy housewifery and CGI-tastic reveries walking through fields of red roses. (Telegraph)

We will soon hear him in a voiceover pondering his “destined path” in life while the stars sparkle in the sky. (

But then! Tuck’s death years later reunites the former sweethearts. (EW)

[calling] them back to their idyllic small Southern hometown for the reading of his will. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“You’re the girl who came every day for a month and every week for a year,” says Dawson to Amanda: he’s talking about her unanswered prison visits. (Telegraph)

Soon they are riffling through the goodies of a fairy-tale cottage they have jointly inherited that is straight out of a Thomas Kincade painting. (

Together again after a lifetime, they reconnect briefly as lovers. (Phil Inquirer)

Cue the flashback to 1992, even though it seems more like an Ozzie and Harriet episode, with its soda shop named Squeals, than the year when Nirvana’s “Nevermind” topped the album charts and “Reservoir Dogs” was released. The teen Amanda is an outspoken lawyer-wannabe rich girl with a very strange penchant for backless attire who pursues the withdrawn Dawson in the most wholesome way possible. Sparks sparks eventually fly, including a requisite smooch in the rain, despite their desperate backgrounds and personalities. (

Sexual love isn’t enough for Sparks. He contrives a plot twist that transforms the couple’s relationship into a redemptive force. Love’s fireworks give way to a flood of transfiguring light. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The sunlight is golden, the accent’s rural, people die, sagacious letters are read aloud. (GlobeandMail)

The rain-soaked makeout session, the disapproving rich parents, the all-binding tragedies, the masculine man-hands clasped against a woman’s jawline. (EW)

...lots of shots of gardens and big, beautiful trees (Detroit News)

…iridescent sunsets, storm-drenched clinches (Telegraph)

“Pain has deep roots” and “Despite everything else, the flowers still grow” (Toronto Star)

…abusive redneck dads, heartless husbands, crossfire manslaughter and child leukaemia all in the mix. (Telegraph)

A pediatric cancer charity is mentioned (

…someone is told to be careful behind the wheel, a car crash is not far behind. (

Lens flares, dust motes artfully floating through shafts of golden sunlight. (Times-Picayune)

…complete with oaks draped in Spanish moss, fields of rosy posies ripe for the picking and an old-fashioned swimming hole. (

And if a character reveals that they once had a drinking problem that is now under control, they will be shown popping a cork on a wine bottle for a cozy dinner for two in the very next scene and downing Budweisers while on a picnic. (RogertEbert)

Sadly, none of the reviews I read revealed the ending. That last one makes me wonder… did Dawson drink himself to death after they got back together? That would make for a great sketch, called “realistic Nicholas Sparks.”

Speaking of, what is it with Nicholas Sparks and SATs? I’m pretty sure Nicholas Sparks got to Dawson’s 1520 SAT score by transposing Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell‘s 1502. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if all Nicholas Sparks stories were just barely disguised Saved By The Bell episodes.

[GlobeAndMail, EntertainmentWeekly, DetroitNews, PhiladelphiaInquirer,, etc.]