Film Reviews

DEAR JOHN

By • Jan 31st, 2010 •

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Ponderous direction cripples Tatum with crying like a newborn. Belongs in the dead letter bin.

I’m not a fan of director Lasse Hallström and sentimental-soaked movies from novelist Nicholas Sparks. I’m reading “A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad” by Robert S. Wistrich and from Vintage Books, a division of Random House, “Kazan on Directing” with a Foreword by John Lahr and Preface by Martin Scorsese. (I’m not being pretentious or a faux-intellectual but just recommending these superior 2010 non-fiction books.)

John Tyree (Channing Tatum) is a 23-year-old loner. He has no friends. He lives with his weird father (Richard Jenkins) in North Carolina. While on leave from the Army, he meets Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), a college student from a wealthy, estate-living family. Savannah has many friends including an older man, Tim Wheddon (Henry Thomas), who is single-handedly raising an autistic son.

John and Savannah meet cute on the beach when he rescues her purse that has fallen into the ocean. They start dating and Savannah demands she meet his father. Savannah shocks John by telling him she thinks his father is not distant, but has a mental condition. Mr. Tyree is obsessive about his coin collection and likes to keep to a highly regimented schedule.

In love, Savannah pledges to wait for John to complete his 2 year commitment in Iraq. When he returns, they will marry. They start writing letters to each other every day. While Savannah wants to know everything about John, she keeps her activities secret from him.

Thus we once again visit the tired themes of Nicholas Sparks – the letter writing, the lost love, the other lover, the mental disintegration. THE NOTEBOOK was about reading 365 letters aloud to a patient with dementia. Can we free Sparks from this triad of triangle love, letter-writing, and mental collapse? At least there is no 3-legged dog gone lost.

On another leave, John and Savannah spend the night together, cementing their love for each other. However, John has been pressured by his troop to reenlist in the Army.

After years away from each other, Savannah stops writing to John and then after two months of no letters, he gets the infamous “Dear John” letter. Savannah cruelly writes to John that she is engaged to be married. Have a nice life.

Studios keep making Nicholas Sparks novels into movies. Hallström keeps making movies. A negative review of DEAR JOHN will have no impact on either of them.

Hallström directs with a very heavy hand, giving Tatum and Seyfried nothing to work with. Screenwriter Jamie Linden has the odious task of transferring Sparks’ sentimental pabulum. Neither Sparks or Linden have an ear for how young people actually talk to each other.

And then there is the sloppy storyline. Savannah cries to John that she had no one to help her. What happened to her wealthy parents? And, why give a ton of money for someone to live two more months? Couldn’t the money be better spent on Savannah’s dream: A horse farm retreat for autistic kids?

Attractive and winning, Tatum does get to show off his acting skills, but does that mean continually crying and getting on his knees looking up at Seyfried? He should get better, more masculine roles. As for Seyfried, at least her agent demanded she play the guitar and sing.

The last Sparks novel to be made into a movie was NIGHTS IN RODANTHE. Even the re-teaming of Diane Lane and Richard Gere could not save that bomb.

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One Response »

  1. This movie sucked end of story

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