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Dear John (2010)

Rating: 6/10

I could possibly be the only female I know who hasn’t seen and cried about The Notebook. I’m just not the Nicholas Sparks type—not that I’m knocking it, I just usually don’t choose the weepy romance when deciding on entertainment. This one intrigued me, though—it unseated the big blue behemoth of Avatar, after all—so I figured it had to have something going for it. What I found was that it’s not horrible, but it’s nothing all that remarkable, either.

When first we meet Special Forces Army Sergeant John Tyree (Channing Tatum), he is home for two weeks, on leave from serving in Germany. An incident with the ocean and a purse leads to his introduction to Spring Breaker Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), and of course they fall for each other while building a Habitat for Humanity house. After their week together, she goes back to school and he goes back to Germany, promising to write to each other all the time. Then 9/11 happens, and John chooses his duty to country over love, setting in motion decisions that affect the rest of their lives.

It’s all very melodramatic in its way, but the major players, at least, seem to give it their all. I wasn’t sure, at first, about Tatum—it’s hard to tell if he’s a bad actor who’s just very stiff and wooden, or if he’s a fairly decent actor who does a good job playing a typically reserved military guy. I chose to give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk his demeanor up to his character, as he does display some actual genuine emotion in a turning point scene with his father (the always brilliant former Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins, whose slightly autistic coin collecting father is really the stand-out here in a film supposedly about two youngsters in love), and he certainly looks the part. Amanda Seyfried seems a little more comfortable as a romantic lead, having proven her versatility in roles that run the gamut from Mamma Mia! to Jennifer’s Body, and she’s got that perfect combination of beauty and perk that makes her appealing to men without alienating women. Again, I never read the source material, so in that regard, I can’t comment. From what I can see, though, Dear John the film seems to hit on all the emotional peaks and valleys it’s supposed to, and if you’re a fan of the sweet romantic drama with a melancholy ending genre, you should pull out some tissues and get ready to cry a bit.

It's Got: Richard Jenkins, Cute leads, Tears

It Needs: A little better structure, Audiences not looking for a re-do of the book


Two appealing leads and a superb performance from Richard Jenkins make this weeper more watchable than I’d expected.