Damn it all, Nicholas Sparks! I told myself if I cried at your eighteen-hanky tearjerk bonanza I would shoot myself in the face. Well consider me dead, mkah? The lesson I learned the hard way is that you don't go into a movie like Nights in Rodanthe expecting it to be anything other than what it is -- a sappy, sad-sack chick-flick that'll have you weeping by the time the credits roll. Writer Nicholas Sparks might very well be the master of this particular strain of movie, something I dubbed the SPOILER ALERT "bone-n-croak" because there's a love story, the requisite "romantic" love scene involving a painfully slow disrobing sequence and some sort of tragic(-ish) death. If you've seen of Sparks' other works (A Walk to [sob!] Remember, The Notebook), you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Nicholas Sparks is the new Michael Crichton or John Grisham -- insofar as he's more famous for the many movies based on his books as for the books themselves. Except where Crichton wrote about science and Grisham wrote about the law, Sparks writes about schmaltz. His latest schmaltz-fest, Dear John, looks to be yet another tale in the "tragic romance" vein, which makes us wonder if there's a formula to Sparks' books, or at least to the movies based on them. We parsed the plots of his five films to date -- and his upcoming movie with Miley Cyrus -- to see what threads they had in common. (Warning: While their books have been out for a while, the write-ups of the last two films on our list contain minor spoilers, although we could figure out their plots without even seeing them.)