Chick Flick City: “The Notebook”

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Welcome back to “Chick Flick City”, the series where I address estrogen deficiencies in my personal filmography by watching movies recommended by YOU, the readers. Up this week, the rain soaked “The Notebook”.

Because I’ll tell ya, that image above is the overwhelming impression of this movie for me. I’ve never seen this flick, but I’ve seen that kiss 8,602 times. Posters, commercials, send-ups, etc… Why couldn’t they go inside? What, they’re at some lake or something? The phrase “get a room” comes to mind. Not because I want them to take it out of my sight, I… I want them to get dry.

Will I change my mind? Will I finally understand, or will I still wish they had brought an umbrella?

Click “continue reading” to find out!

Annnd we’re off.

That was fast. Movie opens with this slow, soft piano tune and a lake with this super orange sunset. Half a second in and I’m in chick flick city already. No signpost needed!

Row, row, row your boat, gently through the credits…

Ok, golden sunlight, soft piano, flock of geese flying off the lake in slo motion to show an old lady wistfully looking out a window. I may not make it through this one, folks.

James Garner narrating. Popping pills, cracking wise. Ok… Maybe I’ll stick around.

So, they’re in an old folks home right now? Cause Geena Rowlands is dressed up as nice as my mother would dress for Church on Christmas.

So James Garner is reading this story, that’s the deal? I just got the impulse to bail and watch “The Princess Bride” instead. And then I saw the period outfits everyone’s wearing and wanted to bail for “The Sting”. Don’t worry folks, I’ll tough it out. Need to be honest though.

I’ve done some crazy shit to impress girls, myself. But jumping onto a moving ferris wheel is dangerous, and more importantly, a good way to get yourself branded a psycho. Whoa… Didn’t know how far he’d take it (with all the dangling and whatnot). Certainly IS psycho.

When she started to pants him though, my first thought was “Wow, that stunt paid off right away”.

McAdams gives Gosling her resume after the movies. Math tutor, Latin tutor, tennis lessons, dance lessons, french tutor, piano lessons, and reading. To which, Gossling replies in the only manner possible. “Wow.” She sure is purty though. Lol.

Gosling tells her he thought she was “free”. It’s said with this level of “movie importance” that makes me feel as if it will be echoed later in the movie. You know, one of them is running after a train just chugging out of the station shouting “I was only free with you!” as the other one leaves, or they throw it in the others face as an accusation during a big fight. “I thought you said you were FREE!” If this proves to be true, I leave this in so you can all see how “movie smart” I am. If not, this gets erased and you’re none the wiser. Heh heh heh.

He illustrates his point by having her lay in the middle of the street at night. The 1920s sucked, huh? They almost got hit by a car and McAdams cracks up, then starts dancing with him. The chicks I’VE dated have always reacted horribly when I’ve endangered them… Maybe it’s the cap.

Cut to the old folks home! I’d almost forgot this is a storybook! This isn’t James Garner’s autobiography or something is it? Like McAdams and Gosling are really him and Geena Rowlands and she just has Alzheimer’s but the “reading” gimmick is the only way she’ll sit with him?

Montage of happy McAdams and Gosling. “Lazy Sunday” all makes sense now.

Annnnnd we’re back. Rachel McAdams was flapping her arms around in the surf asking Gosling to call her a bird and I had to watch something else. Thank you “Walking Dead!” Is that cheating here? Watching in segments? LOL

They’re both birds now. FREE BIRRRRD!!

Hook up scene in the truck? Nope. Instead she gets bagged by her Dad. Nice stash. Are you kidding me? Looks like a dead ferret on his face.

Here we go. Big table summer dinner scene. The societal pressure starts. He needs to pull a Daniel Larusso, dump a plate of spaghetti on himself and run away. I guess she’s going to college, too. Obstacles on top of obstacles.

Dude. I’m all for these two hooking up right now, ok? But he just took her to this abandoned, dark, ramshackle house. Girls in THIS century say Uh Uh… Rachel’s all kinds of cool with it though!

Ok, ok, here we go… They play a little you show me yours, I show you mine. Unfortunately, I have the feeling Rachel’s not going to show US hers, if you follow. She starts talking, and not in a good way. Of course, Gosling’s not exactly Cyrano De Begerac, here either. Damn dude… Talk to her, will ya? Blown opportunity. It’s ok. Eric Murphy would have just busted in on them anyways.

Joan Allen bitches Rachel out about dating trash. It’s good to see some things never change. Not that I know anything about sitting where Goslings sitting… Ok? Gosling slips out of the house and then self sabotages when McAdams comes after him. “It’s not in the cards for me.” Its like an inverse Terry Malloy line! She starts slamming him up against the truck, and then slapping him. He counters with the three stooges defense of slapping himself.

They break up, and she’s screaming at him “I hate you I hate you”, but then asking him if this was for real, like “We’re not really breaking up are we?” *sigh* If I only had a nickel, you know?

Damn, nice dining room. These folks are the 1% huh?

McAdams family moves her away the next morning (the 1930s most reliable method of birth control) so Gosling starts writing. “A letter a day”. She never writes him back (cause Joan Allen tampers with the mail… I wonder if that was a felony then?) So Gosling does what all period piece movie jilted men do – he enlists in the army.

Ooh! War scene! Explosions. I literally felt the difference in my testosterone levels! Eric Murphy gets killed. Why couldn’t that have happened on “Entourage”? Meanwhile, McAdams is a nurse. She falls in love with Cyclops after nursing him back to health. He’s got money, the parents love him, it’s all good. The end, right? Huh. I’m no romantic, but that’s not the worlds best marriage proposal was it? Cyclops came off like a tool, but she said yes anyways.

“Noah took a look at the house, but he only saw one thing. Allie” yeah, well, there are worse things to be stuck on.

Ah! He sees her out the bus window! Now if he only calls out “Come be free with me!!” I’ll look like a genius! Lol. He runs through the streets in time to see her happily kissing Cyclops. Shouldn’t have told her “It’s not in the cards” dumb ass.

“He got the notion into his head that if he restored the old house where they had come that night, Allie would find a way to come back to him” – If you build it, she will come…

I guess it’s a sign I’m getting into this movie when I get irked when they switch back to the old folks. Honesty is the policy here in “Chick Flick City”. Just sayin’.

I like crazy Gosling. He’s drinkin’, got the shotgun out, got the crazy beard goin’. Reminds me of James Brolin in “The Amityville Horror.” It would be cool if the new house he fixed up was haunted and he went Brolin level crazy.

McAdams is getting married. Do all chick flicks have weddings? JUST as I type that, McAdams sees Gosling in the paper, feints and the film cuts to her in a bubble bath. Do all chick flicks have bubble baths? Now she’s drinking too. I know I used to drink after a breakup, I wonder if I drove my exes to drink too? LOL probably, right?

“I don’t paint anymore” she says wistfully. “So paint,” Cyclops answers. Now THERE’S a realistic male/female piece of movie dialogue. :D

McAdams drives back to the house. Gosling comes out as she pulls up. She’s all nervous. He’s a wreck with a beer. She wipes out into his fence.

GOD DAMN OLD FOLKS HOME SCENES… GAWD!! Seriously, who would think anyone in the audience would want to cut away right there in order to watch a septuagenarian James Garner getting a physical? For real. But I guess they needed to to show Geena Rowlands playing the same song on the piano that Rachel McAdams did. Don’t need binoculars to see this one coming folks.

Back to McAdams/Gosling getting cocked up. Engaged as she is, she drives all that way out to you, stays for dinner and starts drinking. Then she’s out on the porch being all “We really loved each other didn’t we?” She agrees to come back in the morning, but still, every guy in the audience is like DUDE. WTF ARE YOU DOING? Gosling isnt exactly exhibiting the “eye of the tiger”.

Ok, Geena Rowlands just introduced herself as Allie. James Garners kids are there but they’re HIS kids, not theirs. Nope. Alzheimer’s “soft shoe” they are her kids. So it is their story…

Back to McAdams/Gosling and they’re on a rowboat through swan lake. Literally. Holy freaking Chick Flick conventions Batman. I wonder how many pieces of bread it took to film this scene. Every woman in the audience is thinking “How beautiful” every man is thinking of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

Uh oh. Rain! Sudden monsoon and their both laughing like they’re splitting a nitrous tank. JUST like a woman though, McAdams is suddenly pissed. “Why didn’t you write me? Why?” I’ve seen wayyyy too many movies with the “Please no cell phones” PSA that uses this scene not to think “I took Trudy to the vet” here.

“It Still Isn’t Over!!!”

Ohhhhhh shittttt….

McAdams “Comes back to Earth” with “You gotta be kidding me.” My thoughts exactly.

Gosling’s lover interrupts their “morning after” bliss. Why do you answer the door there? McAdams is like c’mon in! LOL. Chicks, man. Meanwhile, Gosling’s ex girl here played a crackwhore on “The Shield” and I can’t shake it.

Happy McAdams, laying in bed. Like super contended. 1,500 unusable jokes just went through my mind. Ohhhhh he bought her PAINTS. And she paints topless? If I start dating again, I’m remembering that one!

Joan Allen! Dun Dun Duh!! Oh AND she’s bringing Cyclops? Dun Dun Duh Dun Dun!!

“Oh so now I’m a tramp!” McAdams says. I touch my nose and point at the screen.

Joan brings McAdams to the quarry. She starts crying and telling her about her own Gosling from her youth. She gives McAdams back the letters. So we get the romance AND the Mother daughter bonding. It’s a Chick Flick two-fer. Heyyyy wait a minute. Geena Rowlands is sick, right? If she dies we could hit the CHICK FLICK TRIFECTA!!!

Ok, McAdams just tells Gosling she “doesn’t know” what’s going to happen and that the past few days have been “very irresponsible”. Wow. That was some serious Scarlet O’Hara level WTF flightiness. I’m rooting for Gosling to tell her he doesn’t give a damn and walk out. But it’s his house… They fight, and he yells after her she’s bored and tells her she’s all about the money. Her retort is to call him an arrogant son of a bitch. I think the word she was looking for was factual son of a bitch.

“I want all of you, forever, every day.” roughly 1,000 men tell women something to this effect everyday in order to woo them. In five years, 999 are gasping for a moment of solitude. LOL.

Gosling asks THE quintessential movie romance question: “What do you want?” every movie romance should have that line, for realism. I had this on pause right then as I typed this, and my thought before resuming was… There’s no way on Earth she answers, right? And… NOPE. “I have to go”. Ok, there’s some mildly realistic moments in amongst the swans and the paint and the kiss in the rain.

She drives off the road and starts reading the letters he wrote her. Being male, my mind is revolting here. WTF lady! Two seconds ago you blew him off! Two seconds! He’s right there!! Just drive back!! They just needed to work the letters in somehow too.

James Garner is reading Geena Rowlands a story on the lake. Then they have a nice candlelight dinner. Oooh. The doctor said he’s had a couple of ticker blasts already. He could die too, we could hit the Chick Flick Trifecta that way!

Cyclops now. He’s been told. He says he has three choices. Shoot Gosling, kick the crap out of Gosling, leave McAdams. He omitted anything involving shooting McAdams, but aside from that his logic is sound. God. He’s STILL telling her he loves her. This is definitely a Chick Flick. A man writes this movie and she gets the Michael Corleone slap there.

Violins. Running into Gosling’s arms. Geena Rowlands remembers everything. It was us, it was us. They dance. She suddenly doesn’t remember and calls for help. At least the movie didn’t try to portray love stories as a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Uh oh… he’s rushed by on a gurney and she’s put in the rubber room. She’s asking if their love can create miracles. Am I sensing a double suicide here? LOL. No? They just die together like a miracle? Cmon. This IS Chick Flick City!
_______________________________________________________________________________

Well, that’s it for this installment of Chick Flick City.

I would have to say, on the whole, the movie was pretty high quality, and on the most part had decent acting (although McAdams was crushing Gosling here). Overall though, this is a shining example of what differentiates a Chick Flick from a regular romance. The period setting, the class warfare, the melodrama, the rain, the swans, the paints, the letters, this is a very femininely idealized romance. As a man, I suffered as I watched Gosling fail to tap in gimme puts, and then go crazy pining over McAdams even though he was with a beautiful woman who was smitten with him.

Still, as a reviewer, I’d have to recognize it was a good movie even though it wasn’t for me.

And as far as Chick Flicks go, this one hit the trifecta! Illness (resulting in death!), Mother/Daughter hostility resolving itself, and a Romance with all the toppings!

B+

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Daniel Fogarty

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19 thoughts on “Chick Flick City: “The Notebook”

  1. I LOVED your review!!!! Maybe even as much as the movie itself…….Now, if you filmed yourself reading it……in the rain, in front of some swans…… we’d really be talking! HaHa

    But seriously, I have a new found respect for you!! Kudos to you for sitting through the whole thing, and and hopefully coming out with your manhood intact. I love the perspective! Re-watching it through your eyes is priceless! It’s great to see how your thoughts wander. HaHa

    I could go on and on, but what it all boils down to is…you nailed this! Love our style….I look forward to more!

    Now……go buy some paint, and get you a girl! ;)

    • Thanks! :D

      I can just see all these geese filling my living room as I’m trying to kick them out the door… “Get outta here!!”

      And I would be Cyclops there, for sure. That was actually probably my favorite line… She’s all sentimental and nostalgic “I don’t paint anymore” – I’d be like… “There’s a Michaels by Petco…”

      But anyways, glad you had fun reading. That’s the main thing. They’re fun to write cause I get to put my “Smart Ass” hat on. :) I’ll launch another poll after Thanksgiving and try to get another one done before XMas… The storm actually delayed this one.

  2. Nicholas Sparks is for women, what Disney is for kids: crack!

    I actually thought this movie was good, but I will never watch it again. I don’t like movies that make me feel depressed for hours after it is over for no good reason. Million Dollar Baby was the same way but at least it was asking some kind of philosophical question and not just pulling a “Where the Red Fern Grows” of “Old Yeller” lets be depressing just to be depressing.

    • Ha!! Kind of like Chick Flick Catnip!! :D

      I would watch this movie 100 times over before I went back to Million Dollar Baby. PLUS, MDB didn’t ADVERTISE its ultra depressing end… It “surprised” viewers with it. So… Ugh. One of my least favorites ever.

      Maybe I’m not seeing it right, here then? I mean, obviously Alzheimers is depressing, but I didn’t think the end was depressing… If anything I thought it was the most super-romanticized element of all. They die together, peacefully, in their sleep? Cmon… No pills or anything? Please. Lol.

      It was almost TOO sweet.

      How did Def Leppard put it? Saccharine… :D

      • Yeah, that is the thing about it, it is an extremely happy ending at the same time as being the most depressing thing of all time, the love of your life can’t remember you, but if she her memory comes back for a second hurry up and die together. Give me a break ladies!

  3. I NEVER would have thought you would make it through this whole movie…. KUDOS to you! I have to say, your running commentary is so freakin hillarious I will watch with a different perspective next time! Maybe I’ll even make my husband watch :) ……….

    • Well, I hope I didn’t ruin anything for you for future viewings. LOL. Everytime you watch that Swan scene you’re thinking of how many loaves of bread they must have used or something. :D

      It wasn’t that bad. Just distinctly feminized. I just wonder how long I’ve got until I start surfing through the “dreck” Chick Flicks.

      To keep up the City analogy, I’ve been staying uptown in the posh hotels so far. Eventually I’ll be watching “Stepmonster” and “The Bounty Hunter”… sleeping in the gutters with a cardboard blanket. LOL!

      And tell your husband it’s not my fault if you make him watch it. I’m a trained professional here, at no point did I say to drag innocent men through this…

      • Ohhhhh mannnn…

        LOL

        Cap’s a romantic!! :D

        It’s cool, it’s cool. There’s Freedom of Speech in Chick Flick City, too. I won’t bust balls.

        I won’t. I could though.

        I will say, I could have gotten into the movie much more if they scaled it back. The Romantic elements were overplayed, and thus, the film didn’t “Reach” me as much as it could have.

        I’ve heard good things about the Before Sunrise and so I’ll be nominating that myself for the next poll. We’ll see how that goes.

  4. Years ago, this movie made me sob like a baby. I’ve been working toward having my man card reinstated ever since ahah.

    The Notebook epitomize the term “chick flick”. It’s cheesy and overly sentimental but all over chick flicks done ever since are compared to this one. The movie is executed in such an unapologetic and sincere way that it might just get to you.

  5. Haven’t seen it, not going to see it… but, I have to say, from personal experience, getting caught in a sudden spring rainstorm while out on a date was one of the romantic moments ever.

    Nice write-up!

  6. Hey man, it’s a chick flick but it also has Ryan Gosling. That’s just what separates from many other chick-flicky romantic dramas. Good review dudeeeee.

  7. I told you not to watch this movie (didn’t I? If not, I meant to,) but now I’m kind of glad you did. I don’t understand the B+ rating though. But then, I rarely see a need for objectivity in these matters. I thought the movie was god awful, and unfortunately, I watched it before I learned to walk out of movies half way through. I was glad when you took a quick zombie break. (I hear the second season of Walking Dead is pretty good, but I’m having trouble making it through the first. Is it worth it, or should I just skip to S2?)

    • The Jury’s still out on “The Walking Dead”… sometimes its fantastic, there are other times when its baffling bad. Inconsistent is the word.

      On the B+, first off, I’m an easy grade. C+ is a bad grade in my book, that’s like calling something vanilla pudding, its not a compliment. Plus I have four different As to give (LOL).

      But overall… honestly? It’s not a BAD movie. I just sat through J. Edgar and Jack and Jill and Immortals this weekend. This movie would have swept the academy awards in that crowd. So, I had to recognize it wasn’t an awful movie other than the fact it was blatantly pandering to the romantic ideal.

  8. Great review and write up for The Notebook – you’ve done it justice ;)

    You’re totally right, it’s this kind of film that differentiates from your average chick flick and your true romance/tragedy film. Love it.

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