The Best of Me, the latest filmic adaptation of one of Nicholas Sparks' love story novels, stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as the movie's star-crossed lovers.

In The Best of Me, Marsden plays Dawson Cole, a contemplative Louisiana oil-rigger, who wants to give his life new meaning after an accident nearly cuts it short. He gets a second chance at love with childhood sweetheart Amanda (Monaghan) when a bizarre set of circumstances brings her back to him from hundreds of miles away, where she has children and a disappointment for a husband.

'The Best Of Me' Reviewed

The Best of Me follows a long list of Sparks novels adapted for the big screen. Like its predecessors, it follows a predictable formula that the majority of critics have grown more than weary of watching. Despite the contrived and dubious plot, critics still found room to praise the performances of the film's under-appreciated stars Marsden and Monaghan.

"The latest lurid three-hanky slushfest from the pen of ‘The Notebook’ author Nicholas Sparks is everything you feared and hoped it would be: as misguided and overemotional as a drunk high-school production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and just as weirdly, unintentionally entertaining. Movies this silly, crass and manipulative really shouldn’t be allowed to exist in 2014. But we’re guiltily glad that they do." – Tom Huddleston, Time Out

“The film is an improvement on previous Sparks moody-doomed-love opuses such as “The Last Song” and “Dear John.” If that is damning with faint praise, the cogs here are the same as in his previous love machines. The actors are appealing enough and Hoffman’s direction calm enough to qualify “Best” as better than its predecessors. That’s not much, though, and though the cinematography is pretty and the formula intact, it seems unlikely that even fans of this sort of thing will be reaching for hankies.” – Michael Ordoña, San Francisco Chronicle

“Monaghan and Marsden are effortlessly appealing, hugely talented actors who don’t often get the leading-role showcases they deserve. While this isn’t the vehicle to turn those fortunes around, their scenes together are easily the movie’s finest. […] There’s sufficient drama in these moments to render superfluous the movie’s preposterously overplotted third act, recklessly endangering characters in whom we have zero investment to begin with; to call it “manipulative” would be giving it far too much credit.” – Justin Chang, Variety

"Movies based on Nicholas Sparks' weepy romance novels are the cinematic equivalents of paintings byThomas Kinkade: Schmaltzy, set in bucolic locales and bearing an ultra-familiar stamp. The Best of Me is just the kind of clichéd sentimental claptrap we've come to expect from these adaptations (** out four; rated PG-13; opens Friday nationwide). What makes it slightly better than the others is an affable, low-key chemistry betweenJames Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as star-crossed lovers.” ­– Claudia Puig, USA Today

The Best of Me, rated PG-13, is currently in wide release.

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