Photo by SCOTT GARFIELD
Have you ever gone on a date with someone and just clicked with that person? Then you go on a second date, a third date, a fourth and that hard-to-find chemistry is still there. You’re caught up with that person and anxiously waiting for them to make a move. Everything seems so perfect and you think that tonight might be the night that he or she comes up to your apartment. But just when you think everything is going so well, they kiss your cheek, bid you “good night” and walk away ... again. The new movie “Dear John” is a perfect metaphor for this type of dating situation.
The two lead characters, John (Channing Tatum) and Savannah (Amanda Seyfried), are handed a perfect, life-changing romance on a silver platter and throw it away because of Savannah’s utter stupidity. Not to ruin the entire plot for those planning to see the film, but there is no happily ever after.
Author Nicholas Sparks wowed chick flick lovers across the nation in 2004 when his novel “The Notebook” made it to the big screen. The love story between Noah and Allie made every American girl pine for a quiet Southern boy to build them a white house with a special room for painting. But unlike “The Notebook,” “Dear John” lacks a certain quality — a quality that makes tears of both happiness and sorrow stream down your face as the credits roll. Instead, tears of anger and disappointment will spout from your eyes, and the rolling credits will leave you feeling confused and unfulfilled.
The film starts out very quickly with the romance between John and Savannah kindling in the first 10 minutes. About 20 minutes in, Savannah has already met John’s dad and the two characters are completely, head-over-heels for each other. Fast-forward a few more minutes and a uniformed John is headed overseas for his next Army mission (he’s a sergeant in the Special Forces). Letters fly back and forth between the two lovebirds, but drama begins when John feels pressured by fellow soldiers to extend his tour. What he doesn’t realize is that Savannah has her own dilemmas back home in Charleston, S.C.
By the end of the movie, and especially during the last third, viewers become very frustrated. The audience keeps waiting for something big to happen between John and Savannah but is never given that relief and satisfaction. Circumstances keep arising that prevent the two from embracing their true love for one another. “Dear John” is like Chinese food without a fortune cookie, airplanes without free snacks or sex without an orgasm — painfully incomplete.
Despite the film’s many negatives, there are a handful of reasons to smile and laugh during “Dear John.” The first and most obvious is the beautiful, irresistible and shirtless Channing Tatum. Good luck peeling your eyes away from the screen when he’s surfing, dressed up in uniform or wearing his adorable navy blue sweater. When he cries during the film (and he cries several times), the audience feels compelled to tear up as well. Another reason to see “Dear John” is for Richard Jenkins, the actor who plays John’s father. He is absolutely remarkable as an autistic and socially anxious adult. His performance was above and beyond that of any other characters (except, of course, the crying Channing Tatum).
“Dear John” opens on Feb. 5 in theaters everywhere. But remember, if you do choose to see it, don’t expect “The Notebook” — but do enjoy the eye candy!