"Dear John" is a film based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. It is an anomaly from what Hollywood usually offers, in that it praises patriotism, sacrifice and strong family support. With characteristics like that, this is a film the Tea Party Movement could take to its heart.
Of course the first obstacle the movie has to overcome is that it is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Having Sparks as the main source of material usually means the film is dismissed as being sappy and contrived. Sparks writes emotional stories and though they routinely please his readers, they do not impress the critics. And the same is true of movies made from his books, even though "The Notebook" is eternally popular among viewers of all ages.
This movie focuses on John Tyree (Channing Tatum) an Army sergeant who is home on leave in South Carolina. While at a beach outside Charleston, South Carolina he meets Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried). She is a college student living at her parents' beach house during the summer and has two weeks left before she must return to college. The two are instantly attracted to each other and plan to reconnect when John finishes the one year remaining on his enlistment.
During this two week period, John is also introduced to her friend Tim (Henry Thomas) and his young son Adam (Braeden Reed). Adam is autistic and has captured Savannah's heart. Because of her connection with him she plans to change her major to special education.
The film follows the romance between John and Savannah and focuses on the problems that occur in their lives. One of them is John's relationship with his father (Richard Jenkins). Mr. Tyree is a remote man with some idiosyncrasies that suggest he may have some emotional problems of his own. John has an awkward time communicating with him but Savannah seems to bring them closer together.
The acting in this film is good, with Jenkins being outstanding. He manages to create the most emotional moments in the movie. Tatum and Seyfried are at their best and make the struggles of the couple touch the audience. Thomas, who played "Elliot" in "E. T.", is also interesting to watch.
As with "The Notebook," the makers of this film do not follow the plot of Sparks' book completely. There are changes made that enhance the film and give it more impact. They also make the film more appealing to its intended audience.
"Dear John" is a love story with a little more weight than the average film of this type. It should increase Tatum's star status and enhance Jenkins stature as an actor. Most of all it should please moviegoers from start to finish just as "The Notebook" did.
I scored "Dear John" a conservative 7 out of 10.
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