Okay, a few weeks ago I wrote about The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. I read the book. Tonight I saw the movie, and I feel like I can tell you what Paul Harvey always called “the rest of the story.”
Movies and books are two different entities. I know this, although I’ve never written a screenplay. When I was a kid and would see a movie based on a book I’d read, I’d sometimes take the book with me to the movie theater, intending to follow along. Sometimes it would work. Often it wouldn’t. I didn’t realize at that time the difference between a novel and a novelization. So I didn’t understand why the book Benji was exactly like the movie while the book Little Women was so different.
I have said from the beginning that, as a writer, The Last Song intrigued me because of the way it was written. The screenplay was written first, therefore, how could the book be anything but a novelization of the movie?
How indeed. I’m still puzzled. And impressed. The movie stands on its own. While both book and movie use the same characters and tell the same story, the book goes much deeper into the motivation of the characters, telling a story of love, family and devotion. The movie, on the other hand, uses some amazing scenery and draws on the talents of the actors to depict the story with just as much intensity of emotion.
I foresee some awards in this movie’s future. Miley Cyrus has definitely broken away from Hannah Montana. In my opinion (very humble though it is), Greg Kinnear did some of his best acting yet. But the Oscar (again, just my opinion), should go to Bobby Coleman, who played Jonah, the little brother of Cyrus’s Ronnie. Jonah was one of the constants for me in both book and movie — my favorite character in both.
Other highlights of the movie include a pretty cool fire juggling scene (though this was not as integral a part of the movie as it was the book — to my disappointment); a hilarious portrayal by Nick Searcy of “Tom Blakelee”, whose slightly clueless character I enjoyed much more in the movie than the more straightforward good dad in the book; and Carly Chaikin as “Blaze”. I have a feeling she’s an actor worth following, though, again, her character did not play as integral a part as she did in the book. Oh, and let’s not forget Liam Hemsworth, who was the epitome of “Will Blakelee”.
Overall, another winner for Sparks. The book debuted as a number one bestseller, and I look forward to hearing that The Last Song, which follows close on the heels of Sparks’ number one movie Dear John, has led the box office for this weekend. Go see it. It’s good, and it’ll make you cry.
Clean those tear ducts out.