Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Dear John

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence
Profanity:Some mild language
Nudity/Sex:Kissing, non-explicit sexual situation, character sets clear boundaries for sexual involvement
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking
Violence/Scariness:Wartime violence, character injured, some punches, sad deaths
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:February 5, 2010
DVD Release Date:May 25, 2010

Nicholas Sparks writes the equivalent of comfort food, high-carb, low-nutrition, but sometimes it hits the spot. His stories usually feature relationships that are not just true and deep and loving but healing. And then, like ripping off a band-aid, he tears it asunder, but in a manner that demonstrates just how true and deep and loving and healing the relationship was but how ennobling as well. And there is usually some object of deep metaphoric and sentimental value.

Ladies, prepare your hankies.

This time, the author of “The Notebook,” “Message in a Bottle,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “A Walk to Remember” and this spring’s “The Last Song” (starring Miley Cyrus) gives us John (Channing Tatum) and Savannah (Amanda Seyfried of “Mamma Mia!” and “Big Love”). She is a kind-hearted girl and he is a special forces soldier with some anger issues. They have some soft-focus moments on the beach in Charleston while he is on leave and she is on spring vacation. She is considerate to his socially impaired father (Richard Jenkins) and he is understanding with her autistic neighbor. Two weeks later, they are very much in love, and agree to write as he completes his last year of service, as they look forward to being together as soon as it is over. But 9/11 changes everything. As Richard Lovelace wrote almost 400 years ago, “I could not love thee, dear, so much/Loved I not honor more.” As wrenching as it is for both of them, they know his place is with his team, defending freedom.

But then, she writes a “Dear John” letter telling him that she is engaged. He is wounded, recovers, and returns to battle. When he finally sees her again, he learns that her choice was not what he thought.

Director Lasse Hallström (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “The Cider House Rules,” “My Life as a Dog”) keeps things from getting too syrupy and Tatum and Seyfried have a sweet, easy connection. Henry Thomas (the kid from “E.T”) has warmth and humor as the single father of the autistic boy. Richard Jenkins does what he can in the underwritten role of John’s father, whose reserve and awkwardness may be attributable to an autism spectrum disorder. We’re on the side of these undeniably decent and very pretty people. But there is nothing they can do to make the last third of the film feel emotionally or narratively believable. If at the end of the movie, you ask whether there was any other reason for a character not to provide more information much earlier and the only answer is that they had to find a way to fill the last 40 minutes of screen time, that is not going to work. And the sweetness of the original connection is dissolved in what feels like a trick.



Previous Posts

A Trailer for A Movie You'll Never See: Moonquake Lake with Mila Kunis and Rihanna
"Moonquake Lake" has a lot of star power behind it -- "LEGO Movie" directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord and stars Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Rihanna. And it looks....intriguing, some sort of "Twilight"-style supernatural teen romance. It just isn't real. "Moonquake Lake" is a movie with

posted 3:54:43pm Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

New Additions to the National Film Registry: 2014
The Library of Congress has announced this year's additions to the National Film Registry. 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant titles are added each year, under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act. The films must be at least 10 years old. The Librarian makes

posted 12:34:12pm Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Black Reel Awards Nominations 2014
One of the great pleasures of this time of year is voting for so many of my favorite filmmakers as a part of the Black Reel Awards. Thanks, as ever, to Tim Gordon for allowing me to participate. I think it is fair to say we had more and better choices this year than we ever have before. Here are

posted 9:14:29am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

A Hannukah Version of "Shake it Off!"
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NoHp2Rq8sMI?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:41am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Visually stunning, capably presented, and utterly unnecessary, this final in the six-movie Tolkien cycle is just for the fans.  I think even Tolkien himself would cry "no mas" at this p

posted 5:47:22pm Dec. 16, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.