What the Straight Kids Are Doing
By Alex Wilburn
The release of The Last Song: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, is marked by being Sparks’ fifteenth novel and his sixth to be turned into a major motion picture. Considering his first novel, something about loving cupcakes like McAdams loves Gosling, called The Notebook, which sold for an advance of $1 million dollars came out in 1996, that’s quite a bit of work. Clearly there is some merit in what this man has to say on the page. Or we are all saps. Honestly, I’ll probably be a ticket buyer next weekend. There’s something so uniquely pleasurable about the pains of straight couples on screen. It’s that same fetish feeling I get knowing the score after every Superbowl or saying grace in front of my grandparents at Thanksgiving. For us, Nicholas Sparks is as wholesome and untouchable as an apple pie on the windowsill or the "sanctity" of marriage.
Or so I used to think.
Once upon a time, Nicholas Sparks was a distant, young father figure who, outstretched on his sunny screened patio in a tight fitting Hanes t-shirt, absent mindedly fingering his wedding band, searched for new ways to put young couples at death's maudlin door. His hands would hover over the keys of his 1999 Inspiron as he mentally checked a list of cancers he had not yet chronicled. Whisting Cancer? It all seemed so organic. Now I know better. If Weepy Romance is just a business, easily bought out by the child-churning House of Mouse and the Billy Ray Bunch that owns them, it’s time we had some claim in this steak. Someone get Sparks. Someone get Groff.
Sentimental sea-shell walks on the Southern Coast, dramatic teary-eyed confessions, class differences, surprise cancer, remembering turtles on the beach (see the movie, you’ll see): all clearly not a virtue of heterosexual courting but rather a commercial market to be wined and dined. And really, who wines and dines like gay Hollywood? So set up a meeting with Sparks and Jonathan Groff, a budding young star raised among the Amish who enjoys purple shirts and the company Lea Michele (God bless him) -- I can’t imagine there’s a more polite and spirited chap to land a new contractual deal for a novel based on a movie based on a screenplay based on a “Thank You for my third vacation home.”
Groff can play a New York singer of eighteen, a little jaded but full of good honest dreams, who returns home to… North Carolina, finds love at a carnival with a local townie (Scott Evans?) and finally finds a common bond with his ex-Broadway star father (Victor Garber) right before he dies of Convenient Plot Turn's Disease. Sparks will pen the screenplay, Gregg Araki can direct, and by some miracle, it will be rated PG.
See, we can be just as mass-market as anyone else.
The Last Song opens today. The First Groff goes into production July 23rd.
-- ALEX WILBURN
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