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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.7%
Average: 8.61%
Pretty Bad: 2.87%
Total Crap: 9.57%

3 reviews, 191 user ratings

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Notebook, The (2004)
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by David Cornelius

"Two parts idiotic romance, one part offensive melodrama."
1 stars

It wasn’t enough for “The Notebook” to just be a bland, forgettable period romance. No, novelist Nicholas Sparks (the writer responsible for “A Walk To Remember” and “Message In a Bottle,” you’re welcome) decided to compound the bad by adding a framing story that treats Alzheimer’s Disease like a lovable case of amnesia. The film - with an adapted screenplay by Jeremy Levin and Jan Sardi, because hey, let’s spread the blame - is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever lost a loved one to such a dreadful disease. Here, it’s treated as just some convenient plot point. Others have defended the film’s choice of romanticizing the disease by saying we should be allowed a moment of fantasy; I say that such fantasy is an insult.

But first, let’s discuss the bland, forgettable period romance part of the movie, because after all, that‘s what takes up almost the entire picture. In it, young Noah (Ryan Gosling), working class country boy, meets young Allie (Rachel McAdams), uppity well-to-do socialite, during one particularly romantic 1940s summer. They fall in love, but her cartoonishly stuffy rich parents disapprove, meaning that once the summer ends, they part ways, hearts broken.

Now, if I were to tell you that Noah spent an entire year writing letters to Allie following their separation, you should, assuming you have seen more than two movies in your entire life, be able to guess why Allie never received them. (You should also be able to guess when the scene is to come where Allie finds out about the letters.) And when we see that Allie becomes engaged to a smarmy young country club type (James Marsden), and then when we see that Noah returns to Allie’s life, the odds of you being fooled by the script’s attempts to have you guessing whom Allie eventually marries are quite slim indeed.

This is, in fact, a laughable story all around, a cheesy, dopey, by-the-numbers affair that fails in its every attempt to be anything other than painfully predictable. The characters are clichés straight out of the Stock Character Handbook, their actions a seemingly endless parade of poorly constructed hazy-lens falling-in-love bits, mixed with the occasional limp confrontations, all supported by bad dialogue. Only the decent performances from the leads make up for the utter triteness of it all.

Decent performances also help keep the modern day framing scenes from swirling down the gutter, although it does get awfully close at times. Telling the tale of Noah and Allie is James Garner, resident at the nicest, biggest, and most expensive nursing home on the planet. He’s reading the story from a journal, and Gena Rowlands is listening. It’s obvious that Rowlands is Allie all grown up, and the journal is the story of her life - although the movie decides to emphasize the point later on, in case you couldn’t figure it out. But the script unwisely tries to make us guess if Garner is Noah or the Other Guy. Considering how there’s only one way the story could have properly turned out, there’s only one person Garner could be, so what’s the use of making us guess?

Anyway. The reason Garner’s character is reading to Allie is that it helps her remember. Which is fine and all, except for the fact that Allie’s condition is sort of a Hollywood version of dementia. It’s cutesy-fied, played out like it’s nothing more than amnesia, that hey, if you read old diaries to Alzheimer’s patients, then all their memories just might come swirling back in one big explosion of happiness. Which is exactly what happens here, in a scene that’s equally ignorant and thoughtless. (Only once, late in the film, does Rowland’s character get to behave like an actual Alzheimer’s victim, but by then it’s an action dropped in solely for the convenience of the plot, making it an even greater offense.)

Watching “The Notebook,” I couldn’t help but think back on “Son of the Bride,” a marvelous import from Argentina. That film dealt more honestly with the way a family handles Alzheimer’s. More importantly, it showed how to use the disease as part of a story without resorting to cheap manipulation. In that film, the disease felt like a natural part of the story. In “The Notebook,” it feels like a gimmick, a quick, easy way to jerk tears.

Finally, I understand that Alzheimer’s affects different people in different ways, and perhaps the behaviors of Rowland’s character may indeed be honest to the experiences of some. Still, that does not excuse the filmmakers from cheapening such a miserable disease by exploiting it for crass Hollywood sentiment. There is no reason for either Sparks or the scripters to have included the modern day material in the story. They merely did it because they needed some extra tears, and this was the easiest route. Shame on them, and shame on director Nick Cassavetes for bringing such a contemptible work to life. Oh, and shame on him for making the period stuff as idiotic as it is, too. As if one horrible movie wasn’t enough, here, we got two. Shame.

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originally posted: 02/11/05 09:15:22
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2004 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/18/20 Ed Riddick McAdams and Gosling shine and raise this a couple of levels. 4 stars
2/20/17 Bonnie Married 53 yrs - mother, grandmother. Predictable, borying, cheesy, shallow, waste of time. 1 stars
1/05/15 Bob E NOTHING predicatable about a lifetime in love, devotion and misery. 5 stars
2/27/14 jazzyjay im in love with the movie my obsession right now at this point 5 stars
8/09/11 Chris F Utter trash worst movie ever 1 stars
3/12/11 lena lee uhhh to predictable and cliche... no offense, but really all of a sudden she remembers him? 3 stars
8/05/10 Susan This movie gives chick flicks a bad name. Maybe it was a spoof? 1 stars
9/26/09 J SKo It was beautiful. I love it and im a guy. But also im a fag. 5 stars
8/16/09 margo rubbish did women wear shorts out in the forties?' 2 stars
8/12/09 sawah YOU FAGGOT! 5 stars
8/03/09 Rachel a tear jerker movie, but I loved it! 5 stars
5/23/09 Grant Fitzgerald What "Titanic" would have been like if you took out the ship and the iceberg. 1 stars
4/09/09 Chris F very average romance film 3 stars
3/31/09 xxXARINAXxx the movie was ok. very touchy. people who hated it probably just can't relate to it (sorry) 4 stars
1/26/09 person it was okay, but wayyyy too much like titanic! compare them && see what i mean 3 stars
1/08/09 Amanda not realistic, but the romance we all want. 4 stars
12/29/08 the dork knight bleh. definitely for women. but still, good movie... 4 stars
9/19/08 Maringa I love this movie!!!! it was aswome, but sad.... 5 stars
9/16/08 janie i cried alot during this movie,best love story ever!!! 5 stars
4/04/08 godwin94 you can see where tis going and its not the best use of alzheimers but its still a so sad 4 stars
1/19/08 Petros One of the most memmorable films !! Fabulous!! 5 stars
10/29/07 mike lame love story ripoff of Titanic kind of. Cliched/excessive cheese. Crappy ending 3 stars
10/01/07 Hollyblood Witchslap Rachel McAdams tries hard but can't salvage this morose turkey. 1 stars
7/23/07 Carolina THE BEST MOVIE EVER!!!! 5 stars
7/16/07 megan best movie ive ever watched :D 5 stars
5/24/07 Dave I'm gonna puke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
4/15/07 Jess I absolutely LOVE this movie. Best movie ever! 5 stars
3/29/07 khadra:] wow this is gay:] 1 stars
12/02/06 mary very heartwarming.i love it. 5 stars
11/14/06 xox-strawberry_kisses-xox BEST LOVE STORY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/31/06 matt money = evil Time = money women= Time X money wemon = evil squared 1 stars
10/11/06 Turd Burglar And we wonder why women cheat.. watchin this trash. 1 stars
9/15/06 pheebs OMG.. BEST FILM IVE EVER SEEN! 5 stars
9/01/06 adriana BEST FUCKING MOVIE EVER!! =] 5 stars
8/23/06 Sarah i loved the movie and it reminded me of how much your first love will never die 5 stars
8/16/06 xxx This movie made you cry and laugh! One of the most beautiful romances! 5 stars
6/19/06 Stacy I have lost a loved one to this dreadful disease, and the movie was not a slap in the face. 4 stars
5/02/06 cheyenne work i love it 5 stars
3/28/06 Peter Jackson this is the best date movie if ur tryin to get into someone's pants, and trust me, it works 5 stars
12/03/05 cr a sad love story with class , the story is great and actors are great ! 4 stars
12/01/05 hedgehog A love story for the MTV in, emotional retards. 2 stars
11/20/05 Jonathon Holmes Someone, for the love of god, put a fucking bullet through my head! 1 stars
11/14/05 Lanie Richardson This is my favorite movie of all time!!! 5 stars
10/28/05 Hilario Ramirez My wife and I fell in love with this excellent film 5 stars
10/20/05 ladybug Wow! who ever wrote the review on " Total Crap" is so ignorant! this movie is incredible. 5 stars
10/09/05 rob so old-fashioned, enjoyable, and well-shot that the predictability is A-ok 4 stars
9/28/05 maaaaaaaaaarie GREAAAAAAAT MOVIE I COULD MARRY IT 5 stars
9/16/05 Cristie Ferrante Best Love Story in Recent Years 5 stars
9/14/05 gina the notebook is a great movie . if you dont like it your out of your mind l 5 stars
9/03/05 smashgirl predictable, shallow, mawkish, stupid, dragging 1 stars
9/02/05 Tom Burns A very romantic movie. 5 stars
8/25/05 Kayla I absolutely LOVE this film! Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling did a fantastic job! 5 stars
8/19/05 ES 'It's the story of us!' <weeping>, written by a guy 8), probably so he could get some 1 stars
8/18/05 Alexandra i LOve this movie i cried everytime i saw it (i've seen it 5 times) 5 stars
8/01/05 Sherrie Daily Ryan & Rachel were excellent, I have watched the film at least 10 times and love it. 5 stars
7/31/05 Lynn Definitely a "chick flick" all the way! Great movie with great main characters! 4 stars
7/26/05 docmoreau it brought me to tears, because it brought me back to a love that chose the other guy 5 stars
7/22/05 Felicia I do not agree with ur rude comments whatsoever. This movie was incrediable! F YOU 5 stars
7/19/05 Brandy Harrington Nope. 2 stars
7/08/05 shannon this movie is amazing!!! its my FAVORITE movie! ryan gosling is so hott! big tear-jerker! 5 stars
7/04/05 Sauny Magnificent! 5 stars
6/06/05 marjury sabino touchy story for hopeless romantics!!!! 3 stars
6/03/05 lauren this is my favorite movie !! i lvoe ryan gosling 5 stars
5/26/05 kc It made me cry like a hungry baby! 5 stars
4/13/05 Ashley A great movie, very sad, but yet good! 4 stars
4/09/05 Melissa B Don't forget the tissues--big time tearjerker! 4 stars
4/04/05 Gomer Simple and sweet. AAHH !! WHO ARE YOU ?? GET AWAY ! ! 4 stars
4/03/05 Cindy Schneider I could relate to this movie. I enjoyed it. 5 stars
4/01/05 Carolyn Cherry One of the Best Movies I have seen 4 stars
3/31/05 Giovanna I love it !!!!!!!!!!!1 5 stars
3/31/05 Michael E. Duffy It's a chick flick,but good, not sappy 4 stars
3/28/05 Emma A wonder love story, one of the better ones I have seen in a while. 5 stars
3/26/05 Denise great but sad 5 stars
3/25/05 Abbi one of the better ones I've seen lately 4 stars
3/16/05 Amy Lynch One of the greatest movies of all time... very sad, but moving! 5 stars
3/16/05 Jody Loved it. Best love story in a long time. Cried my eyes out. 5 stars
3/02/05 kristy *BEST* heart throbing n so sweet 5 stars
3/02/05 Kim Hicks Greatest movie I have seen in a long time. 5 stars
3/01/05 OC_SurfChick I LOVED this movie! Great love story. 5 stars
2/24/05 Dusty Johnson Oh well - it was free. My wife liked it. 3 stars
2/19/05 Debbie This movie is the best, most moving love story!! 5 stars
2/19/05 Sharon Davis Disease of the week Movie, Alzheimers, 3 stars
2/19/05 LilyM McAdams delivers on the promise she showed in "The Hot Chick" 4 stars
2/18/05 daniel r walker If you like pretentious movies you'll love this 3 stars
2/18/05 Melis Loved it! Gets better with every viewing. Wish I had love like that. 5 stars
2/18/05 daniel r walker If you like pretentious movies you'll love this 3 stars
2/18/05 Eileen Lammers Sappy, but I loved every minute of the movie! 5 stars
2/17/05 Janet Crandall It will be okay if I don't see it for a while 3 stars
2/17/05 Dusty Johnson I liked it - basic chick flick but it was good to watch with my wife. 4 stars
2/17/05 Lisa Jochelson I actually liked this movie. Depressing as all hell, but it stayed with me for a long time 4 stars
2/17/05 Rachel Neely I'm not a fan of romantic movies, but I absolutely loved this one! 5 stars
2/16/05 JE It is a wonderful and a little sad movie about true love and commitment to marriage vows 4 stars
2/12/05 rebecca gilbert Liked it, but missed the end. 4 stars
11/23/04 Maureen I was really surprised at how good this movie is-not my usual kind of movie, but it got me! 5 stars
11/08/04 Jessica I love this film, I think it was the best romantic drama I have ever seen! 5 stars
11/06/04 Katie Heath I thought it was a ho-hum story where I was forced to shed tears against my will. 2 stars
10/21/04 Meredith Harshaw Right, Julia. But does show what a versatile actress Rachel McAdams is. Nothing like Regina 3 stars
10/21/04 Julia Cox First shows promise, then gets overlong, then ends on a complete descent into bathos. 2 stars
10/20/04 tina I LOVED it!! 5 stars
10/20/04 Jenna This movie is has to seen movie 5 stars
10/19/04 Jessica T. The Notebook is absolutely the most beautiful movie ever produced 5 stars
10/11/04 Pat It is a beautiful and touching love story. 5 stars
10/06/04 Laura I cried from beginning til end...incredible 5 stars
10/05/04 leslie great!! 4 stars
10/04/04 JS may not be the best romantic movie but its definitely worth watching.... 4 stars
9/29/04 Carinne Vitelli Beautiful story, very touching, truly a tear-jerker 5 stars
9/29/04 Catdawg this is the best love story ever told and the charetcters can relate to any one of any age! 5 stars
9/28/04 Misty Klodt I thougth it was a great Movie! 5 stars
9/28/04 Deb Excellent best movie I've ever seen 5 stars
9/27/04 OinkieDoinkie I'm not big on rommance movies, but I definetly liked this movie. 4 stars
9/26/04 Angie Beavers Beautiful , best movie ever!! 5 stars
9/23/04 Arica Parker marvelous 5 stars
9/20/04 Debbie Linkhart Best movie I've ever seen in my life and I'm 45 5 stars
9/19/04 Melissa By far the greatest movie of all time 5 stars
9/12/04 brendie It was Great! Does anyone know when it is coming to dvd to buy? 5 stars
9/11/04 Adrianna ll this movie portreys the greates love story of all times. I loved it! 5 stars
9/07/04 Jesse Rogers Fantastic Flick , Grade A Romance to the Maxx 5 stars
9/06/04 miki best movie ever 5 stars
8/25/04 Marelise best film I've seen in years! 5 stars
8/15/04 Amanda Bee I Loved This Movie! 5 stars
8/05/04 Judy Hidy a sweet, sweet love story. Loved it! 5 stars
8/04/04 Gina Great movie! Just seeing the commercial makes me want to cry all over again! 5 stars
8/02/04 Patricia It's my favorite movie 5 stars
8/02/04 Ann AWESOME! One of the best movies I have ever seen. Great love story and acting. 5 stars
7/30/04 kIM I LOVED It!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/30/04 Shellie I LOVED this movie! I saw it twice in theaters and can't wait to buy it! 5 stars
7/29/04 Jack Rydell Fucking Awsome i'll admit this movie had me weeping 5 stars
7/26/04 B J Moore Excellent movie, wonderful but sad story 5 stars
7/26/04 Melissa One of the best romantic movies I have ever seen. I was literally exhausted from crying. 5 stars
7/25/04 Leona Wieland My mother died of Alzheimers in March-- enjoyable and worthy of praise 5 stars
7/20/04 Amanda This movie was AWESOME! 5 stars
7/17/04 Danielle If you are in to mood for a good cry, this is the perfect movie! I loved it! 5 stars
7/16/04 Michelle Ngai it was a little random and hard to follow at times, but overall, the movie is unforgetable 4 stars
7/13/04 Dr Bob Wonderfully romantic. A gem! unforketable. 5 stars
7/13/04 Nicolle Ocean Made me cry a lot but I loved it!! 5 stars
7/13/04 Debbie R. Absolutely awsome! So beautifully made!! Cinematography is unbelievable! 5 stars
7/13/04 L Thomas Loved it 5 stars
7/12/04 R Scott Linton Ignore lame reviews. Until you have lived and loved this intensely you won't understand 5 stars
7/12/04 Gina manipulative,cloying, puerile, and cliched, oh yeah it really sucked 1 stars
7/10/04 S. C. B. A lovely movie, very sad. Not only a love story, and the story of a man who is unusually 4 stars
7/10/04 vanessa awsome movie ` even higher than a 5 emotional aswell but amasing 5 stars
7/10/04 deborah IT WAS GREAT!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/09/04 Judy Great story 5 stars
7/07/04 Tom Nehl Interesting, but with unanswered questions 4 stars
7/06/04 susan benguerel the best movie I ever saw in my life 5 stars
7/06/04 carole Wonderful 5 stars
7/06/04 Jim & Pat Santini a very touching love story 5 stars
7/05/04 Heather Loved the scene of the ducks in the lake, a great chick flick 5 stars
7/04/04 harriet s frenkil charming lovestory a pleasure in these days of violence 5 stars
7/04/04 Vicky Bartolome It was AMAZING! the best LOVE STORY ever HEARD! soooo great..its BEAUTIFUL and hilarious. 5 stars
7/03/04 Brooke I LOVED The NOtebooK! it was SO cute and everyone in the theater was crying! 5 stars
7/02/04 Human Shield . I know I'm a guy saying this, but it was manipulative and predictable. 2 stars
7/01/04 Pamela Beautiful movie. The chemistry between Gosling and McAdams is incredibly genuine. 5 stars
7/01/04 marina THE BEST MOVIE EVER!! 5 stars
6/30/04 Cass Loved it ,Even though i felt it rather confusing but as it started to unwind i grew to love 4 stars
6/30/04 Mary Worth Seeing 4 stars
6/29/04 L.B. This movie was great made you really think there is such a thing as true love. 5 stars
6/29/04 Carly brilliant-one of the best love storys ive seen 5 stars
6/28/04 Bari Leventhal Great romantic movie! 5 stars
6/28/04 sofia klein This movie is one of those movies that leaves you thinking about it afterwards. 5 stars
6/28/04 Elizabeth Roth These young actors were made for this role. Increddible movie! 5 stars
6/27/04 B Moore magnificent/inspiring 5 stars
6/27/04 horny guy a complete bore 1 stars
6/26/04 Christina This movie was awsome i loved it and Ryan was hott and Ratchel was beautiful!! 5 stars
6/24/04 charles lindquist it is an amazing film rachel mcadams is amazing 5 stars
6/22/04 Bridget Best movie I've ever seen! 5 stars
6/21/04 LJB Sentimental!!! The "Love Story" of the 21C. Bring your Kleenex 4 stars
6/19/04 Ray Great 5 stars
6/18/04 Jennifer This was the BEST movie I've seen in a long time. 5 stars
6/17/04 O Mel Suprisingly good and unexpected 5 stars
6/17/04 GK from WIS Lovely film with romance and life-perspective 5 stars
6/16/04 Amanda O'Rourke The second best film I have saw behind City of Angels but I have 2 say that it is brilliant 5 stars
6/16/04 Katie awesome! definitely lives lives up to the high expectations set by the book! go see it! 5 stars
6/16/04 Dorothy This movie was great!! it was an awesome love story!! it was definately worth seeing! 5 stars
6/15/04 KT SOOOOO GOOD! Definitely worth seeing - definitely bring tissues if you cry easily!! 5 stars
6/15/04 Carrie Tahler I loved every minute. I didn't want story to end!! 5 stars
6/15/04 Sheryl Great love story...If you like Ryan Gosling, this is the movie to see. 4 stars
6/14/04 mary I loved it-A great love story 5 stars
6/14/04 jean west great 5 stars
6/14/04 Melinda This was a great movie. It touched every emotion! There was not a dry eye in the house! 5 stars
6/14/04 Heather great, touching movie 5 stars
6/13/04 Kristen Good movie, borderline cheesey, yet tastefully made and a beautiful story! 4 stars
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  25-Jun-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 08-Feb-2005



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