The Choice


Like most movies, “The Choice” is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. That means it’s a romantic drama set near the ocean, everybody has a dog, and one of the principals is going to die. (Or almost die. Sometimes they only almost die.)

This time it’s a small, folksy North Carolina town where Travis (Benjamin Walker), a hunky, carefree veterinarian, meets Gabby (Teresa Palmer), a vaguely uptight med student with a nice doctor boyfriend (Tom Welling) whom we’ll feel sorry for later. Directed by Ross Katz (“Adult Beginners”), the film is full of half-developed threads — Travis’ religious hang-ups; his father’s (Tom Wilkinson) love life; his assumptions about Gabby’s family — that only appear for a scene or two before being dropped; they feel like vestiges of excised subplots. Travis and Gabby’s love story is as blandly formulaic as they come, and the plot twists are emotionally manipulative. But the performances are agreeable, the scenery is nice — and hey, sometimes you want to have your emotions manipulated. If that’s the case, “The Choice” is less of an insane soap opera than a lot of Sparks-based movies, so you could do worse.

C (1 hr., 51 min.; PG-13, a little profanity, a scene of mild sexuality.)