Friday, February 5, 2010
DEAR JOHN / **½
Distributor: Sony / Screen Gems
Release Date: February 5, 2010
Running Time: 108 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Channing Tatum stars in the latest adaptation from Nicholas Sparks, the guy who wrote “The Notebook.” Guys, get ready, because your girlfriends are going to make you see this movie.
Truth be told, it’s not that bad of a movie to get dragged to. It’s formulaic and predictable, but under the steady directorial hand of Lasse Hallström (twice nominated for the best director Oscar for “My Life as a Dog” and “The Cider House Rules”), it becomes a very watchable film. And while your girlfriend is staring at Tatum, I doubt too many guys would complain about getting the chance to ogle Amanda Seyfried.
Channing stars in the title role, a solider enjoying leave in his hometown of Charleston, while Seyfried plays Savannah, a college student on spring break. The film wastes little time in putting these two aesthetically pleasing characters together and they fall in love pretty much instantly.
They spend a whirlwind two weeks together, doing all kinds of cute things and getting to know each other through montages set to sappy love songs. Then the two weeks is over – Savannah goes back to school, and John goes back to the army.
From here the film takes a “Lake House” type turn, as the main characters are connected only through the letters they write to each other. Promises are made and then broken, tears are shed, lather rinse repeat. The film does follow a formula but Seyfried is capable enough to handle this role, while Tatum has some kind of doofy charm in the sense that he plays every role in exactly the same way. She certainly has more range than him, as evidenced by her comedic turn in “Mean Girls” and being the best thing about last year’s “Jennifer’s Body,” but they work well enough together.
The screenplay by Jamie Linden (“We Are Marshall”) incorporates several other side stories involving Savannah’s family friend Tim (Henry Thomas, always a pleasure to see) and his autistic son Alan (Braeden Reed), as well as with John’s father (the great, Oscar-nominated Richard Jenkins). Thomas is an old pro and he has several good moments despite how the screenplay makes them feel forced. Jenkins in particular gives the film’s best performance, but these stories don’t ever really seem to enhance the main story but just give some added drama to create tears.
That being said, “Dear John” works on exactly the level one would expect it to, and that’s really all a movie like this needs to do.
Theater: RDM Westroads 14, Omaha, NE
Time: 730 pm
Date: February 3, 2010 (Promo)