There’s been quite a few movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels, Message in a bottle (1999), A Walk to Remember (2002), The Notebook (2004) and Nights in Rodanthe (2008). I’ve watched all these movies except Message in a bottle; The Notebook is still one of my favorite ‘chick-flicks’ and even Nights in Rodanthe wasn’t that bad. The latest film to draw inspiration from Nicholas Sparks’ books is Dear John, this time the lead role goes to Channing Tatum who plays an army fellow and the leading lady is Amanda Seyfried who plays a girl named Savannah.
I usually try to be light on the spoilers during my reviews but this time I’m going to spoil as many details as possible. The thing is, if you’re in a relationship you’re probably going to be forced to watch this film anyway so I’m just making sure you know what you’re getting your self into.
John Tyree (Channing Tatum) is an Army soldier who’s on leave when he meets Savannah Lynn Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) who’s enjoying spring break with a couple of friends. Savannah accidentally drops her purse on the beach and John jumps off the dock to get it for her because her whole life is in that purse. We never saw what was in that purse so I’m just going to assume that they made up everything to justify Savannah’s attraction to John when they first met, that and his chiseled abs probably. The thing is, the chemistry just wasn’t there, I never once believed that these two were in love with each other even if you add in that cheesy montage of the 2 weeks they spent together.
Their first fight was ok; I mean I’d be angry too if you called my dad retarded even if you meant to help and even if you knew what you were talking about. But the way they made up was just rubbish, I mean John beat up two of Savannah’s best friends and he was forgiven because he wrote one letter?!
So now John and Savannah are supposed to be madly in love with each other (which I don’t buy) but their farewells are moving nonetheless. They then begin a long distance relationship and exchange handwritten letters (which are more personal and sweet) for a very long time. After John’s service, 9/11 happens and he’s torn between his sense of duty to his country and his love for Savannah. They argue again, and this time during the first part of the argument Savannah just walks away and didn’t want to talk it over at all which made no sense, maybe the director needed a better scene other than the backyard porch.
So eventually John goes back to the army, and for 2 years they go back to writing letters to each other. After several months John, gets a Dear John letter from Savannah saying that she’s already been engaged to someone else. Shortly after John gets shot in the line of duty and after a few weeks of recovery he wanted to reenlist. After a while John had to go home because he was informed that his father had suffered a stroke. John stays with his father while he’s hospitalized and it’s during this time where we see the only good scene in the film. John wrote a letter to his father, (because that’s what he does) but then ends up reading it to him because his father is too weak to even open it up. This is definitely my favorite scene of the whole movie because Channing Tatum acted pretty well and of course Richard Jenkins was just awesome.
After the death of his father John decides to see Savannah only to find out that she got married to Tim and not Randy (Scott Porter). And they of course get into a fight, with John asking why she never bothered to call then Savannah saying that if she heard his voice it would just make her come back to him. She then pretty much says that she married Tim (Henry Thomas) out of pity and because she likes his kids too. It turns out Tim has cancer and an experimental drug that Savannah’s rich family can’t afford is his only chance to extend his life. In an act of kindness John sells his father’s coin collection and anonymously donates the money to Tim’s operation. John goes back to the army, Tim eventually dies and in the last scene of the film John and Savannah met each other again and they ended up hugging each other.
Overall you this is a pretty lousy movie, its cheesy town population John and Savannah, it’s like eating a meal where all the side dishes were above average while the main course had maggots in it. The real hook in films like this is the relationship between the two leads and ultimately the chemistry was never there. There are scenes where Channing does a good job (but he never pulls of being awkward or shy, I mean this guy seems like he’s the new Joss Hartnett only with a narrower acting range) and there are some scenes where Amanda acts well too but they never act well in the same scene! Not once did I believe that they were playing two people in love that’s why the story fails. It tries to add interesting things like the effects of 9/11, autism and even a surprise twist but these things are supposed to add to main point of the story but instead they ended up stealing the spotlight. Same thing with the actors, Henry Thomas who plays John’s dad just shows you how to pull off subtle acting that evokes more emotions than anything that John and Savannah could come up with.
There you have it, watch this film knowing that it’s not even half the film that The Notebook was, or just watch the trailer since it pretty much tells you the whole story already. But if you do end up watching it, hats off to you, since you obviously love your partner enough that you would suffer through this film, oh and I bet you watched Twilight too!