The Choice Parent Review

Despite all its sentimentality and content issues, the message that the sum of all choices determines our life path may be a message worth contemplating.

Overall B-

Based on a Nicholas Sparks' novel, this romance looks at how choices affect life's outcomes -- especially for two neighbors: Travis (Benjamin Walker) and Gabby (Teresa Palmer).

Violence B-
Sexual Content C
Profanity C
Substance Use C-

The Choice is rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues

Movie Review

February movie releases are certain to include at least one romance and the adapted works of novelist Nicholas Sparks often contributes a tear or two to the genre. This year The Choice is the latest movie based on one of Sparks’ books. It offers us most of the plot elements we have come to expect in his writing: An unlikely couple, and characters whose lives have been brushed by death.

NEW: Listen to our Parent Previews Podcast and take control of media and technology in your family!

In this case the pair are Travis and Gabby (Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer), who coincidentally meet under less than favorable circumstances. They are neighbours and initially there are a lot of misunderstandings that involve loud music interrupting Gabby’s medical studies and her skepticism when Travis explains the woman he is hanging around with is really his sister. Travis also has a hard time convincing the girl next door that his dog is not the culprit that left her pooch pregnant.

Of course, we know from the opening moments that, despite each of these people having existing romantic relationships, somehow, someway they will get together. It takes a lot of time and manoeuvring but finally the sparks fly—resulting in a lengthy sensual scene that starts in the kitchen and ends in the bedroom.

Now it appears this relationship should progress, yet there are still many obstacles to overcome and grief to endure. By the end, it all feels like too much pain and not enough gain. Fortunately, there is lots of beautiful scenery in this film that may distract you from recognizing the content concerns it contains for teen viewing. In addition to two premarital sexual interludes we also hear a wide range of mild and moderate profanities, along with some sexual discussion and a sexual finger gesture. Disappointing as well is the impression that the characters in this film can’t socialize without alcoholic drinks in their hands.

Overall The Choice comes off as a clumsy Valentine’s Day card with a verse that’s pages long. However there are a few reasons diehard romantics may still want to include it on their date movie list. Families are portrayed as an essential element contributing to a happy life. And some of the characters demonstrate how their faith has helped them through difficult circumstances—although a prime opportunity to have our protagonist recognize this is missed.

Despite all its sentimentality, the plot tries to make the point that even little choices add up to big choices. And the sum of all choices ends up determining our life path. That may be a message worth contemplating.

Directed by Ross Katz. Starring Alexandra Daddario, Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Maggie Grace. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release February 5, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Choice here.

The Choice Parents Guide

Travis is a womanizer who is used to getting his way with women. How does Gabby’s initial disinterest in his flirting influence the way he feels about her? What do you think motivates him to work for her affection? Why do you think Gabby has a change of heart? How do you feel about the script’s observation that, “Every woman wants a man that will fight for her”?

Gabby says that people often don’t appreciate what they have until it’s gone. How is this theme woven into the script of the movie? Do you agree with her statement? What things could you do to help you appreciate the good things in your life before you lose them?