‘The Best of Me:’ The 2nd Annual Nicholas Sparks Drinking Game

Those who’ve been with me on this movie review-writing venture from the beginning may remember a little review of a larger-than-life movie, Safe Haven, which was given to us about a year and a half ago. It’s really a bastion of Nicholas Sparksmanship, so much so that it inspired a great friend of mine to come up with the definitive rules for the Official Nicholas Sparks Drinking Game, and by golly, do they work. We reconvened for round two this year with the newest, hastily thrown together romantic drama to bear the Sparks name, The Best of Me.

We’ll take it rule by rule.

  • Drink when the two pretty white people meet.

The two pretty white people, in the case of The Best of Me, are the combined 1 ½ respectable actor, Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden (each of them are ¾ of a respectable actor, entirely due to their participation in this movie). Not only are they pretty and white, but they are also pretty white. I imagine that the only reason both of them agreed to do this is because they wanted an excuse to hug and kiss each other in the Louisiana bayou, shirtless, wet, and in otherwise super sexy circumstances. They’re good looking. I’d do it. Memorize a few lines, kiss James Marsden, get paid for it? Makes sense to me!

Also, you’re in luck, drinky drinkers, because they meet each other approximately A MILLION times in this movie, between flashbacks and not talking to each other, then finally talking to each other, etc., etc., etc. The premise is that Amanda (Monaghan) and Dawson (Marsden, also UGH on the name) were young and in love, but some serious s**t went down and they haven’t seen each other for over twenty years. They reunite thanks to the death of their older, wiser mentor/father figure guy, Tuck (Gerald McRaney, better known to me as Raymond Tusk from House of Cards), whose final wish is that they come together, spread his ashes, go through his estate, and get to banging again.

  • Drink when obstacles come between their love

Well, what are they gonna do, NOT listen to a dead man? They f**k their way down memory lane, and we learn the truly awful, totally ridiculous conflicts they’ve had to bear. The obstacles that come between their love are aplenty, from children and a husband on Amanda’s side to a horrendous family history on Dawson’s side, including drug dealing, abusive relatives (though they never once say the word “drugs” in the movie) who hate Dawson so much for rejecting the family business that they cause a whole mess of violence.

  • Drink every time clothes are removed

There’s a garden at Tuck’s place. How is Dawson supposed to weed the garden, with his shirt ON? What is he, an animal?

  • Drink when a character announces he/she has some kind of disease

There’s leukemia! There’s a heart transplant! The Best of Me is a veritable petri dish of very serious ailments. By this point, you are mostly drunk.

  • Drink when someone dies

Well judging by the fact that they entire premise of the movie is based around reuniting after Tuck dies, you can bet your ass there’s a bunch of death. There’s even a funeral.

  • Drink when there’s a montage

The Best of Me holds no candle to Safe Haven’s FIVE montages. With a measly two, be glad there’s way more ridiculous s**t to drink to.

  • Drink when someone says “We can’t be together” or some variation of that

The whole impetus for their break-up is that Dawson doesn’t think he’s good enough for Amanda and wants to protect her from his crazy, redneck family. He spends a whole lot of the movie reluctantly pushing her away. If she’d just listened to him the first time, the movie would be five minutes long, and you’d be way more sober.

  • Drink when the plot seems to be written specifically to cause obstacles even though in any normal world they wouldn’t be problems

If you actually adhere to this rule, you would have to drink from the very beginning to the very end, with no stopping to breathe. Realistically, there are reveals of death and disease, conveniently timed car accidents and shootings, and unnecessarily drunk and disorderly encounters to drink to.

  • Drink whenever you’re just like, “What? Why?”

This is a rule that you don’t take seriously if you don’t want to die. Every single thing is a “What? Why?” From Dawson’s Southern Gothic/Johnny Cash/Amish/Preacher father who looks to be maybe five years older than him to Amanda’s crying and looking at the stars, to crock-o-s**t stories about fate and hearing songs and seeing visions that aren’t really there, you could drink yourself into oblivion with just this one rule. Take it easy.

  • Drink whenever someone cries

This includes your own tears of confusion.

  • Drink whenever there’s a kiss or embrace in any type of precipitation and/or while one or all parties are wet

In a pond, on a rooftop in a storm…you name something wet, Amanda and Dawson boogeyed down in it.

The Best of Me is a wildly successful drinking game subject, but not such a successful movie. The drama is particularly contrived, somehow it seems like the Nicholas Sparks crew is getting a little tired of themselves, and the prevailing consensus is that there aren’t nearly enough ghosts.

Grade: A+ for drinking, F for montages, D- for movie

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