Movie Review: 'The Best Of Me,' Starring Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden

The movie stars Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden.

Rated PG-13

One out of five stars

Twenty-one years after going their separate ways, former high school sweethearts Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) are reunited after older mutual friend Tuck (Gerald McRaney) passes away. Dawson is a loner who works on an oil rig, but enjoys reading books about philosophy when he has a break.

Amanda is living a Stepford existence, playing the part of the dutiful, beautiful, stay-at-home mother to a teenage son in a loveless marriage.

We learn about their history through a series of flashbacks in which Luke Bracey plays the young Dawson and Liana Liberato plays young Amanda. And here’s where the movie implodes.

There’s nothing wrong with Bracey as an actor, but this has to be one of the worst pieces of casting I’ve ever seen. He’s supposed to be the high school version of Dawson, but have you ever met a high school student with crow’s feet?

In real life, Bracey couldn’t pass for an undercover cop in high school, never mind the fact there’s virtually no resemblance between him and Marsden. Bracey’s casting is such a distraction, it’s a cinematic disaster. Liberato is much more convincing as a young Monaghan.

As for the plot: Dawson’s crazy, drug-running father and brothers, his relationship with Tuck, and his star-crossed relationship with Amanda past and present -- it hardly matters. Other than the actors’ efforts to try to overcome this flaw-laden film, "The Best of Me"’s only other redeeming quality is that it finally ends.