starring Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Henry Thomas, Richard Jenkins
screenplay by Jamie Linden, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks
directed by Lasse Hallström
by Ian Pugh Movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels--sentimental drivel, functionally identical--usually just bounce off my chest, but we all have our limits. Once more into the breach as Princess Prettygirl (Seyfried) falls head over heels for Johnny Bluecollar (Tatum) in a spectacularly awful Harlequin romance that juggles metaphors about coins and the size of the moon while boasting only the vaguest understanding of the English language. Dear John is little more than a rehash of The Notebook, a movie I found tedious but, again, ultimately innocuous. Yet there's a mysterious "x" factor at work in this one that attacked some vital nerve and reduced my brain to petroleum jelly. Could be that Lasse Hallström finally found the perfect vessels for the source author: Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum--actors, both, whose deadwood talents fail to stretch past sheer bewilderment. (I kind of hate Ryan Gosling as an actor, but he undoubtedly elevated The Notebook.) There's a point very early on where Seyfried remarks, "Wow, you made a fire," as her future beau demonstrates his ability to jumpstart a little kindling--and the complete lack of sarcasm (or really any emotion) in her voice led me to wonder if Tatum was going to club her over the head and drag her back to his cave. It's not an unreasonable conclusion: most of these movies forge conflict out of the idea that women are property, and Dear John is no different.