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The Notebook (2004)

Behind every great love is a great story.

Directed by:

Nick Cassavetes

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 122 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

‘The Notebook’ is, without a shadow of a doubt, mushier than a mushed-up bowl of mushy peas that’s just been mushed in an industrial-strength mushifier. At no other time in my life can I recall seeing any movie where the film-makers make it so unashamedly obvious that their one and only aim is to make everyone in the audience cry.

Credit where it’s due, it certainly made the two women sitting along from me sob their little girlie hearts out. In fact, it even reached the point where I was considering putting ol’ Mr Pointy Finger to my lips and treating them to one of my emergency-use-only cinema shooshes. But, I’m afraid, the only emotion such overly-syrupy slush leaves this reviewer overcome with is outright nausea. While those two dames along the row were reaching for the hankies, I was going for the sick bag.

Perhaps I’m being too cynical though. After all, I’m not exactly in the target audience for this kind of crap. Just look at what it’s about – a young lovestruck couple in the 1940s (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams), their disapproving parents, the predictable enforced separation, the forlorn attempts at happiness with others, and of course the textbook reunion. It took writer Nicholas Sparks an entire novel to get this story out originally but – let’s face it – you or I could write it down on the back of a postage stamp and everyone would still get the gist. In short, it’s formulaic nonsense.

The gimmick with this one is that the whole thing’s being narrated by an old codger (James Garner) to his missus (Gena Rowlands) in a nursing home. She’s suffering from Alzheimers, and he tries to coax memories of their youth out of her by reading the story aloud from an old notebook (hence the title). So you could say you’re getting two batches of lovey-doveyness for the price of one.

Easily the best thing about ‘The Notebook’ is the believable chemistry between impressive leads Gosling and McAdams. McAdams, in particular, has proven herself to have genuine versatility over these past couple of years, and now she’s got this on release at exactly the same time as her comic turn in the preferable Mean Girls. But make sure you’ve got a nose-clip at the ready for Garner’s scenes, because his performance literally stinks. When even croaking your way through a couple of passages from a book starts to look like a chore, it’s surely time to quietly collect your bus pass and retire.

It's Got: Hundreds of geese.

It Needs: More bread crumbs!!

Alternatives:

A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle

Summary

Goes straight past the heart-strings and hits you square on the upchuck reflex. It’s a sweet tale, but just far too sickly.

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