When I first started hearing about Dear John, all I could think about were those poor saps at war receiving the infamous “Dear John” letters that their girlfriends were leaving them to be with someone else. To hear that this was a love story of that same fashion I thought they must be joking. They were not.
One thing that had me looking forward to the story was that writer Nicholas Sparks, of the biggest tear-jerker ever, The Notebook was the writer of this novel. Beware book lovers, I have been told that the movie does not end the same way as the book. The movie was directed by Swedish director Lasse Hallström who you might know from Chocolat and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
Dear John takes place in 2000 where John (Channing Tatum) is on leave from the Army where he is based in Germany and spending some time back at home which is in North Carolina. While spending a day at the beach surfing, he meets Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) when her purse falls into the water and he dives after it. She invites him to join her at a party where they begin to get to know each other. They have only two weeks together before he has to go back and finish his deployment, but it is enough to fall madly in love with one another. They promise to write to each other and tell everything that is happening, hence the name of the film. A lot of the letters are read in a montage to generally give a feel for what is happening, but overall not important. We are just waiting until they can get back together.
Right before his duty is finished, 9/11 happens and he feels it is only right to reenlist and here is where the movie gets interesting. I won’t ruin anything else for you. The first act of the two of them together was like a dream. It felt like everything was safe and nothing could go wrong. The scenery was beautiful and John’s Dad (played by Richard Jenkins) plays a good part in this act. The second act seems to fly by due to the letter reading montage and the third act is, well, kind of weird. This is the part that is different from the book. This is the arc of the story and we are supposed to be crying, yet, I wasn’t. Although, there were a few sniffles in the crowd. My only conclusion to why this didn’t happen is the lack of musical score behind it; because I did care about the characters and I liked everyone and wanted everything to work out perfectly. All of those parts were executed perfectly, but when it would get really quiet and serious, I knew that I should be tearing up (and anyone who knows me, knows that I cry very easily, even for ASPCA commercials), yet there were no tears to be found.
On a good note, there were a couple of unexpected turnouts that I found interesting only because I thought I saw where the film was going and it proved me wrong. Also, I loved the acting of Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum. Seyfried is really beefing up her resume lately and I think she will be the next big thing. She is just so adorable and sweet with her girl-next-door look and she can act pretty good too. Tatum is definitely showing some range in this role as before I have only seen him punching things or dancing. He had a pretty easy character for him though, an ARMY jarhead that is secretly a softy. I can’t say that I didn’t mind looking at him the whole time though, and in uniform he looked pretty good.
Overall, if you read the book, you will probably go see this because you loved the story, but just be ready for some changes. If you love sappy love stories, you are probably a shoe-in for this flick as well, but if you are on the fence about what to see, I can’t really see you paying to go see this in theatres. I would recommend waiting and renting this when it comes out.
To quote the great Tyler Durden, I give Dear John 3 “Is that what a real man is supposed to look like?” out of 5
by Angela Davis