At first, Dear John seems like a love story that mimics the themes that made us all (or just me) fall for The Notebook: love, regret, heartbreak and soul-mates. John (Tampa native Channing Tatum) and Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) meet on the beach in Charleston, SC, where she is spring-breaking with friends. They begin that "two weeks" we've been hearing so much about during every single commercial break on Lifetime over the past month. Cliche-yet-adorable scenes of young love ensue. The producers buttered me up with Ryan Adams* on the soundtrack, and sold me with the inclusion of Joshua Radin but that is kind of where my love affair with Dear John started to take left turn into sadland.
Dear John isn't really about Savannah and John and letter-writing from across a war-torn world, though those things are a part of the story. Mostly, the movie is about love lost, family, death, tragedy and making my eyes fill with tears at least four times before the end credits started to roll. Dear John isn't winning any Oscars, for anything at all ever, but girly-romantic-sappy-Nice Amanda thought it was pretty darned cute, despite how incredibly melancholy and far-fetched the movie was. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a love story with some serious disaster thrown in, ya know? To fill the time between make out scenes in the rain.
Ok, Nick Sparks, I've got you allll figured out. You take two semi-known actors who are stupid attractive and add EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD THAT MAKES PEOPLE CRY.
Here's a tidbit: If you don't cry in this movie, you have NO soul. In the first five minutes you get autistic kids, charity house building, and of course a guy from the wrong side of the tracks who falls for a girl who makes Mother Teresa look like a little bitch. Sadly, neither of these "oh so deep" characters manage to be believable for more than 5 seconds. You cry, not because you want to but because you HAVE to cry. There are at least 50 different things that will strike a chord with ANYONE to make them tear up. At one point I was crying whilst laughing at myself for crying. If you're looking for a good dark room filled with strangers to release all your emotional baggage into one gigantor tub o' popcorn, Nick Sparks and Dear John have you MORE than covered. If you're looking for a movie with merit, walk on little buddy, walk on.
*The Ryan Adams song is Answering Bell and sadly, it did not make it onto the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. I think this is the true tragedy here. Also, Paperweight by Joshua Radin is used twice in the movie music direction fail!
Nice Amanda here, and I'll admit it: I'm bit of a Nicholas Sparks fan. If The Notebookis on television, I'll watch it. I cried during A Walk to Remember. I own a few of Sparks' books and enjoyed them. I will also admit that I have not read Dear John, but I was a teensy bit excited to review the movie anyway. Look at that preview (trailer after the jump), it makes Dear John seems like an adorable film full of romance and probably at least one death but hey, sometimes girls need to sit in a dark room, the smell of nachos and gummi bears wafting through the air, and have a good cry. I had prepared myself for one good cry, but only one. Wowza was I under-prepared.
I went to see this fine film with my same-name-BFF, Mean Amanda. I had one take on it, she had another. One thing we both agreed on: This movie is so so sad.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay,
and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes.
No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email.
Letters may be edited and shortened for space.