The Notebook review by Matt Fuerst
The Notebook begins in the present day. Duke (James Gardner) is reading a story to Miss Calhoun (Gena Rowlands). Miss Calhoun obviously suffers from a degenerative mental problem or two, but Duke seems very caring and attempts to comfort her through his tale. The story, set in the early 40's, begins with a summer romance between visiting-for-the-summer Allie (the always cute Rachel McAdams) and local yokal Noah (Ryan Gosling). The summer progresses and the couple quickly find themselves in love. Allie is from an upper crust family, and once the family senses things are becoming serious, they cut their summer vacation short and whisks Allie back to the big city. Fraternizing with the little people is not much embraced by Allie's ma (Joan Allen). Noah does what any red blooded, Mens Health subscriber would do. He starts out laying the pipe to Allie's best friend, Yolanda. He gets her knocked up, then dumps her for a "dancer" at a seedy club he visits while getting his drink on. He occasionally cracks the "dancer" across the jaw, but Noah wisely gets her hooked on smack, so she needs him for her fix. Alright, that was a total fabrication. Noah is a good guy and this is a love story you sickos. Noah pines for Allie for a year, writing her a letter a day in an attempt to keep their relationship alive, but once again the scheming, wenchy mother, trying to live vicariously through her daughter, intercepts the letters and ensures that Allie drifts away from Noah, her true love (yeah, I know it's sappy typing that, but hey, it's the story! At least I worked the ).
Allie eventually moves on with her life and manages falls in love again with a fancy, more acceptable gentleman. Noah can't let the past go, and continues driven to fulfill all the promises he made to Allie. He buys the house he promised her he would rebuild for her, and finishes the work exactly as promised. Noah is completely miserable living there without Allie, but at the same time he cannot bring himself to let the dream go. The story takes it's much needed twist when Allie sees Noah's picture in the paper, right next to her wedding announcement. Noah has once again been brought into Allie's life, it's time for her to make a decision. And one more important than cream or sugar.
Allie goes to Noah and immediately rekindles her love for him. But, she cannot help but still feel in love and promised to another man at the same time. Noah once again finds his life ripped apart. Would it have been better to lose Allie forever, than to have her enter his life again, just to leave yet again?
Alright, by this point, you're probably wondering what the hell I was talking about with the Duke and Miss Calhoun business at the beginning of the summary. Well, if you're as dense as I am, then it may surprise you (I hope you are sitting down, then again very few people actually stand to read Jackass Critics, due to it's highly shocking nature) to learn that the Allie and Noah in the story are actually Duke and Miss Calhoun. I know. Twists and turns abound, no? Duke/Noah is reading his love Allie the story of their life, trying to rekindle her memory and have the love of his life back, if even for a moment. Will Allie remember her one true love? Wait, doesn't she really have two true loves? She really did love the non-Noah dude. Maybe Noah should call in the non-Noah and see if that causes a few synapses to fire off in Allie's haywired brainpan.
I'll leave the ending a mystery for you. If you really want to know what happens, you can figure it out yourself, here's how. On your way home from work tonight, swing by the liquor store and buy a pint of Root Beer Schnapps and three beef jerky sticks. Pour the pint evenly into 3 glasses. Down a glass, eat a jerkey stick, rinse repeat until you've finished off your "German Dinner". Now, remember the sappiest card you've ever bought for your mom, or sister, or the like. Ok, you got the mental image? Alright. You're doing good, we're almost there. Now pretend you're reading that sappy ass card to an old ass lady that has no memory that used to be hot. Alright, what happens next? Yep, that's the ending of the movie, right there. What? You're telling me you didn't follow my analogy? Hell, I didn't follow it. Dang, that started out so promising with the root beer schnapps and beef jerkey, then it just went off the rails somewhere along the line. Anyway, I'm gonna try to wrap up this train wreck that I am trying to pass off as a movie review. I can hear you cheering already.
In all honesty, The Notebook is a pretty decent flick. Yeah, this coming from the guy that has seen and reviewed such gems as Chaos (I feel dirty even mentioning that steamy pile of crap and giving it one more ounce of publicity) and House of the Dead (Uwe Boll = Uwe Wrong). I honestly consider horror movies to be my favorite genre, but I find the vast majority of horror flicks to be tremendously disappointing. I am completely willing to watch pretty much anything, romance, musicals, whatever. So I do have a pretty open mind, and without cable, a lot of time on my hands. So, I'll say it again, if your girlfriend/wife/significant other wants to see The Notebook, it honestly could be worse. The "falling in love" part of the movie, set in the 40's, is actually very cute and well done. You can't help but enjoy the characters in their happiness. The torment that Noah goes through is a bit one dimensional, but you have to appreciate the characters drive to get what he wants. Wrapping the story back into the modern day with Duke and Miss Calhoun in the home is an obvious play on the heart strings of the viewer, but hey, I'm willing to suspend my normal smart ass defenses and be toyed with like a kitten smacking a ball of yarn. And that's exactly what happened. The Notebook - you complete me.
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