10 ways to spot a Nicholas Sparks movie
A poster featuring two characters
This would be why you thought The Vow was a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. It wasn't. They include: 1999's Message in a Bottle, 2002's A Walk to Remember, 2004's The Notebook, 2008's Nights in Rodanthe, 2010's Dear John and The Last Song*, 2012's The Lucky One, 2013's Safe Haven, 2014's The Best of Me, and 2015's The Longest Ride.
*Technically, The Last Song poster also featured Greg Kinnear, but he was tiny and not one of the two giant faces floating in the sky.
A wet kiss
The Notebook's lift-and-walk kiss in the rain is MTV Movie Award-winning, but Dear John's lift-and-sit kiss in the rain wasn't even nominated? That's just wrong. The Lucky One upheld the wet kiss tradition with Taylor Schilling grabbing Zac Efron as he's washing his hands in an outdoor shower. That might be reaching. But it's totally hot.
A memorable sunset
You could experience it alone and have an epiphany (as in A Walk to Remember, pictured), but it's best enjoyed as a couple (so your kiss is backlit).
It's more romantic, obviously, if it happens outdoors like in Nights in Rodanthe, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook...
A body of water
Because you'll need to go canoeing if you're young (The Notebook, The Lucky One, Safe Haven), sailing if you're older (Message in a Bottle), and surfing if you'd look good shirtless (The Last Song, Dear John).
A romantic outdoor date
Options, as previously discussed, include dancing (on a pier or at an alfresco restaurant), canoeing, and sailing. But don't sell short stargazing in a cemetery (A Walk to Remember) or making a body outline out of seashells on the beach (The Last Song, pictured).
A letter that may or may not be read in a timely manner
Occasionally, it's opened when delivered (Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe). Frequently, it's not (The Notebook, The Last Song). And once, it'll tell you that you can see dead people (Safe Haven).
An awkward 5 minutes when the two main characters want absolutely nothing to do with each other
They can be at the beginning of the film before the characters realize opposite attracts or how much they actually have in common. Or, later when the secret that never should have been kept comes to light.
A moment of window gazing
Odds are the person does not like what she or he sees.* If you're already outside, standing at a great distance and spying on a young couple is an acceptable alternative.
*Except in The Lucky One, when Taylor Schilling seems quite happy with Zac Efron's biceps.
A meaningful death
Spoiler alert: It could be a supporting character, like in Dear John, pictured, The Last Song, or Safe Haven (she's a ghost!), but it's more of an emotional (sucker) punch when it's the leading man or lady (A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and Nights in Rodanthe). Allie and Noah really were lucky to grow old together before passing in The Notebook.