With the most recent of Nicholas Sparks’ novels to make it to the big screen with “The Choice,” it’s become obvious that his page-to-screen adaptations are here to stay. Going all the way back to 1999 with “Message in a Bottle,” Sparks has been regaling us with tales of melodramatic romances for years. Thus far, we’ve endured 11 tales of woe love against all odds. The last few films have, without fail, become an annual trend and the studios don’t seem to be slowing down.
Regardless of what film, and no matter who directed or adapted the screenplay, Sparks’ novel adaptations always seem to have similar themes. Whether it’s a sick or disapproving parent or romances that don’t look like they’ll pull through but still do, below you’ll find a list of the most common themes present in his work that have become significant in setting them apart from other romance genre films.
Someone is Sick
Usually rearing its head in the form of cancer, Sparks is no stranger to fatal illnesses. Mandy Moore's character in "A Walk to Remember" had cancer, Miley Cyrus's dad had it in "The Last Song" and it was also present in "Safe Haven." Another illness was present in "The Notebook," but at least they died together?
Characters from Different Backgrounds
This is a big one. Sparks is a sucker for couples who come from varying social statuses or backgrounds. Two people who come together in love regardless of their friends, family upbringing, economic status, etc. is a major theme that plays out in several of the author's films, including "The Notebook," "A Walk to Remember," "The Longest Ride," and "The Best of Me."
Sparks loves boats, too. What better use of water is there, really? Most of his characters have boats. Ryan Gosling in "The Notebook," Kevin Costner in "Message in a Bottle," and "Safe Haven" and "The Lucky One" all include boats. Thus proving that in order to properly woo a love interest, try investing in a boat. According to Sparks, you'll get somewhere.
Nicholas Sparks adores beach towns. And small towns, usually set somewhere in North Carolina. It doesn't matter really, so long as there is water. And running (frolicking) around on beaches. See "Nights in Rodanthe," "Dear John," "Safe Haven" and "The Last Song" for reference.
Ryan Gosling wrote to Rachel McAdams for 365 days. A year, people! Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried kept in touch through letters in "Dear John." Robin Wright Penn finds Kevin Costner through a letter he's written in a bottle and sent out to sea in "Message in a Bottle," while "Safe Haven" also included letter writing. That is a lot of paper. The couples in the 21st century must have a lot of unused phone data since they apparently don't text.
Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.