Tears: The Nicholas Sparks Phenomenon

Awhile ago Jana and I had this idea: let’s go see the new Nicholas Sparks movie at the theater. (I’ll confess, it was my idea. I thought it would be hilarious.)

So I filled up a water bottle with gin and tea (because you never should suggest seeing a Sparks movie sober) and we went to the theater to watch The Longest Ride because we all know that I have a little crush on Clint Eastwood’s kid and honestly, you start to think “how bad could it be?”

I mean, how bad of an actor could he be?? Also, sometimes, who cares?
I mean, how bad of an actor could he be?? Also, sometimes, who cares?

And we were right! Because that was the best time I’ve ever had in a movie. By the time we left the water bottle was empty and I was crying real tears. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The movie is about a bull rider and an art major who improbably fall in love in the present day and about a couple in the 50s who struggle with the very real pain of infertility. And I know what you’re thinking, I can see the parallels already. Totally.

From the first scene Jana and I were hysterical with laughter. The opening, first introduction to the movie scene is a crotch shot. I mean, sure, “it’s about the championship belt buckle he’s wearing”, okay, but come on, it’s a romance, it’s really just a crotch shot. It was really downhill from there as we tried to discreetly make jokes through our laughter.

When you’re primed to view a movie as a comedy there’s very little that can change your mind. But there were still low points in the movie that sobered us.

  • Gratuitous butt shot of Eastwood (the younger one). Because that’s what a sensitive, thoughtful plot line needs. Butts.
  • Looking around the theater and realizing everyone is crying real tears of sadness and wondering if someone removed your sensitivity gland. Or if maybe you weren’t born with one to begin with (I didn’t cry the first time I watched A Walk to Remember OR The Notebook. Clearly there is something wrong).
  • Finishing the contents of the water bottle and realizing with sinking dread that the movie is definitely not over.

But I digress. You wanted to know about the plot or whatever.

You discover in the movie that our young bull rider is apparently one concussion away from brain dead and suffered a serious fall the previous year that left him in a coma for eight days. This is a pretty serious matter despite the fact that I couldn’t take anything in this movie seriously.

Which is unfortunate, because the 1950s’ story line is so good, so painfully real that I would have gladly watched, for what seems like the first time, a movie that seems to accurately describe the painful realities in store for those people who want a family desperately and can’t have one.

But no, concussed bull rider and his art majoring love interest keep popping in. I keep bringing up the art major because it’s a plot point. Perhaps the one time majoring in art has come in handy (hah! jokes!).

As the movie ends our art major turns to our bull rider and says “what took you so long?”, because it’s never too early to start nagging someone in a relationship, and Jana leaned over and says, “Well he had brain damage!”

And I laughed so hard I cried. And that is the story of the first and only time I’ve cried in the theater during a Nicholas Sparks movie.

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