Review: Dear John

Dear John | Lasse Hallström, 2010

Whether some people would like to admit it or not, The Notebook is one of the most influential movies of the last decade, at least for American cinema. Although I do love it, it is easy to see why people would dismiss it as another chick flick, therefore denying its influence. The reason why it is so influential is because it was cheap to produce, and earned a healthy box office gross. Because of this studios had the brilliant idea of making cheap movies, with a tragic story and pretty people. The biggest benneficiary was Nicholas “From the Author of The Notebook” Sparks. The movies his books have inspired since Notebook, because they get inexperienced people looking for a quick buck to make it, plus they have crappy stories. Dear John follows in the tradition  of a crappy Nicholas Sparks story. However, the director of this is actually pretty good, and it got a pretty good cast (with one exception), so that helps it. But it is still a Nicholas Sparks story, which doesn’t help at all.

So, it is spring break 2001 (Dun dun duuuuuunnnnnn) and John (Channing Tatum) is on leave from the army for two weeks is his father’s house in some fancy beach town. While staring out to the sea in a pier, Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) drops her purse into the ocean, and apparently her whole life is in there, so he takes a 20 foot dive to save her life. Since this is a Nicholas Sparks story, they fall in love at first sight. And so they spend the next two weeks being in love, and make promises that in one year they would be together. But then 9/11 happens, and he enlists for longer. And obviously this causes problems which lead to the rest of the film.

First off, the worst thing about the film is the story and the script. The story is unoriginal and does nothing to justify its existence. The script suffers from wooden dialogue and horrible scenes. And it irks me that 9/11 is used as a device to hurt the relationship. We are at the point where movies like United 93 can be made, but that event can’t be used in that manner yet. And then there is Channing Tatum who can’t act his way out of a paper bag.

That is enough to keep the movie from being good, but I have to acknowledge those who did good. Lasse Hallström is a good director and it shows in that he makes everything look too good to be in this crap movie. Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, and Henry Thomas (Elliot from E.T.) do their best with the poor material they are given, and the movie is better for it. However, when it is all said and done, this is just another movie that doesn’t stand out in the sea of cheap romances that spawned from the much superior The Notebook.


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