The Best of Me parents guide

The Best of Me Parent Review

Despite Nicholas Sparks' history of formulaic love stories, "The Best of Me" turns out to be slightly different than you might expect.

Overall C

When fate brings Amanda Collier (Michelle Monaghan) and Dawson Cole (James Marsden) back to their hometown, thinking about their high school romance seems unavoidable. But can these old memories from the past overcome present obstacles and ignite new feelings for their future?

Violence C-
Sexual Content C-
Profanity D+
Substance Use C

The Best of Me is rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence, some drug content and brief strong language.

Movie Review

Have you ever wondered what happened to the one that got away? That high school girlfriend, college boyfriend or summer fling? Trust Nicholas Sparks to ask.

Like the teenage sweethearts in The Notebook, Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) and Dawson (James Marsden who also starred in The Notebook) lost track of each other. She went on to marry and have a child. He found work on an oilrig in the middle of the ocean. Twenty-one years later they are both summoned back to their hometown for the reading of the will of their old friend Tuck (Gerald McRaney).

Tuck, a no-nonsense widower with a rifle, took Dawson in and gave him a fresh start after the youngster ran away from home. Amanda spent hours at the house so she could be with Dawson, a boy of whom her parents did not approve. But life’s twists and turns eventually drove the teens apart.

Review continues after the break...

Coming back dredges up a lot of memories for the pair—both painful and pleasant. It also reignites their old passions. And after several days together at Tuck’s house, Amanda and Dawson end up in bed together (just as they did as teens). However, Amanda now has a husband, who is conveniently a jerk that would rather play golf than spend time with his wife. As a result, committing adultery with an old boyfriend doesn’t leave her as conflicted as you’d think. Yet after their idyllic week comes to an end, Amanda has to return to the real world and face her unhappy life.

Of course, anyone who has seen just one other Nicholas Sparks’ movie knows that won’t be the end of things.

Unfortunately, along with the easy manner in which Amanda brushes aside her wedding vows, this film includes at least two sex scenes with partial nudity, another in which a wet t-shirt leaves little to the imagination, an unwed pregnant teen, sexual innuendo and a man who spends a lot of time shirtless. While some of that might be expected in a romance movie, viewers may be surprised at depictions of frequent drinking, driving under the influence, bootlegging, brutal beatings and gun violence that kills a man. As well, a string of profanities and a strong sexual expletive make their way into the script.

Lining up all the right romantic cues, the audience is led to believe these two deserve happiness in each other’s arms. Amanda is after all a fiercely attentive mother who has sacrificed almost everything for her family. And the depictions of her inattentive husband (who luckily isn’t as handsome as the scruffy faced Marsden) make it all the more obvious whom she should be with.

In the end however, The Best of Me turns out to be slightly different than you might expect. In the age of feminism, it is an interesting turn of events that eventually brings Amanda the bliss she is supposedly entitled to.

Directed by Michael Hoffman. Starring Michelle Monaghan, Liana Liberato, James Marsden. Running time: 118 minutes. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Best of Me here.

The Best of Me Parents Guide

How does the script create characters that are unlikable in order to justify infidelity?

Do Amanda’s parents have valid reasons to be worried about the boy their daughter is dating? Do the teens do anything to justify that parental concern?

What does Tuck do to change Dawson’s life? What impact can one person have on a child? What effect did Dawson have on Tuck?

This movie is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Best of Me.

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