The Notebook

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Ryan Gosling as Noah Calhoun
Rachel McAdams as Allie
James Garner as Duke
Gena Rowlands as Allie Calhoun
James Marsden as Lon Hammond
Sam Shepard as Frank Calhoun
David Thornton as John Hamilton
Joan Allen as Anne Hamilton
Kevin Connolly as Fin
Tim Ivey as Rower
Starletta DuPois as Nurse Esther
Anthony-Michael Q. Thomas as Nurse Keith
Ed Grady as Harry
Renee Amber as Nurse at Counter
Jennifer Echols as Nurse Selma

Special Features:
12 deleted scenes with optional director commentary

All in the Family: Nick Cassavetes Profile featurette

Nicholas Sparks: A Simple Story Well Told featurette

Southern Exposure: Locating THE NOTEBOOK featurette

Casting Rachel and Ryan featurette

Feature-length commentary by director Nick Cassavetes

Feature-length commentary by novelist Nicholas Sparks

Rachel McAdams’ screen test

Theatrical trailer

DVD-ROM enabled “Script-to-Screen” program

Other Info:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Fullscreen
Dolby Digital EX 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 124 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“Behind every great love is a great story.

As teenagers, Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) begin a whirlwind courtship that soon blossoms into tender intimacy. The young couple is quickly separated by Allie’s upper-class parents who insist that Noah isn’t right for her. Several years pass, and, when they meet again, their passion is rekindled, forcing Allie to choose between her soulmate and class order. This beautiful tale has a particularly special meaning to an older gentleman (James Garner) who regularly reads the timeless love story to his aging companion (Gena Rowlands).

Based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook is at once heartwarming and heartbreaking and will capture you in its sweeping and emotional force.”

The Notebook is rated PG-13 for some sexuality.

The Movie:
For a chick flick, The Notebook is OK. There are certainly a lot worse sappy tearjerkers out there. It’s just too bad that this film had to use almost every cliché romantic plot around to tell its tale. The story is fairly simple – rich girl falls for poor guy, her parents disapprove, she almost marries another guy, then ultimately ends up with her true love. The end. What makes it bearable is that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are fun to watch as they go through the predictable plot. The other thing that helps The Notebook is that it is told as a series of flashbacks by an elderly Noah to an elderly Allie (played by James Garner and Gena Rowlands). The way he tells their story to her as a means to spark her failing memory is an interesting hook. It also gives a romantic spin to elderly characters which you don’t see in films too often. Romance is generally reserved for younger characters.

As already mentioned, the cast of this film is pretty good. McAdams is lively and pretty as Allie even if she does have a dramatic temper. I wondered if some of her costumes and behavior was appropriate for the 1940′s, but I suppose that’s irrelevant. Gosling is pretty good at changing the moods of his character. He swings from love struck teen to broken hearted adult with ease. It’s hard to imagine James Garner as an elderly Ryan Gosling, but that’s really irrelevant too. Garner delivers an excellent emotional performance as the loving husband of Allie. Gena Rowlands is also great as she is also required to portray a wide range of emotions as an Alzheimer’s patient. James Marsden, Sam Shepard, and Joan Allen are also good in secondary roles.

The sets and locations for The Notebook are excellent. The music is also well done. Despite the fact that The Notebook is a well-made film, I have to knock it down in my scoring simply because the story was just OK. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either. But I think if you like romantic tearjerkers, then this movie will be right up your alley. It’s very similar to Titanic, just without the sinking ship and a villainous fiancée. You may want to consider that when deciding whether to watch it or not.

The Extras:
Besides getting both the full screen and widescreen versions of this movie, there are quite a few bonus features included on this DVD. Here are the highlights:

12 deleted scenes with optional director commentary – While most deleted scenes on DVDs are not that impressive, the ones included here actually help expand on the plot and even resolve a few unanswered questions. For example, one scene shows Allie writing the notebook shortly after learning she has Alzheimer’s and giving it to Noah. Another scene tells what happened to Noah and Allie’s house (he gave it to his children). So as you can see, they give a little more background to the story. However, other deleted scenes like the “alternate love scenes” offer little more than some extra skin that was cut from the film.

All in the Family: Nick Cassavetes Profile featurette – This featurette highlights director Nick Cassavetes and his filmmaking style. They talk about how he started directing, how he likes to direct, and how he ended up with The Notebook as his next project. They also reveal that Gena Rowlands is his mother. No wonder it is “all in the family”.

Nicholas Sparks: A Simple Story Well Told featurette – This tells the interesting story of the author of The Notebook. They talk about how, as a first time writer, he struck gold with The Notebook and became a bestselling author. It’s quite a remarkable story and well worth checking out even if you haven’t read his work.

Southern Exposure: Locating The Notebook featurette – This short feature goes into detail about the South Carolina locations that they shot the movie in and how they had to transform the modern day buildings, plantations, and streets into 1940′s era locations. There’s a lot of history mentioned here and it is quite fascinating to hear.

Casting Rachel and Ryan featurette – The casting process for Ryan Gosling and Rachael McAdams is described in this video. They talk about how each of them got their roles, their audition process, and how the rest of the cast was built around them. It is followed up by footage from Rachel McAdams’ screen test.

Feature-length commentary by director Nick Cassavetes – Cassavetes delivers a very energetic commentary. He talks almost non-stop for the entire film. He talks about casting for the movie, the characters, the locations, and even how they managed to get all those geese and ducks to swim around the canoe. If you liked the film then you’ll enjoy this commentary.

Feature-length commentary by novelist Nicholas Sparks – If you’re a fan of author Nicolas Sparks, you’ll enjoy hearing his thoughts about this movie. He talks about the changes made from this novel, how he wrote the book in the first place, his thoughts on the characters, and other such topics.

The Bottom Line:
If you’re looking for a sappy tearjerker, then The Notebook will fit the bill. Fans of the novel will want to check it out as well. It’s basically Titanic without the sinking ship.

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