Movie Review – Dear John

This movie is from same creators as The Notebook.  Since The Notebook is still my favorite movie of all time, I was not about to miss it!   Another movie by the same creators, Message In A Bottle, is right up there on my list of movies I was particularly touched by, as well!  Had to be good, right???

So, opening weekend, I was at the theater!  And so were a lot more people!  I went to the 2:30 matinée on Saturday and the theater was PACKED!  I got there right at 2:30, the coming attractions were already starting to run, and I stood at the bottom of the stairs looking at a full auditorium – both the stadium seats and the lower level seats closer to the screen.  Luckily, the front row of stadium seats was empty, so I didn’t have to go searching for a seat in the dark.  I was really surprised at not only the # of people in the theater for a matinée, but also at the # of men!  Typically, guys only go to movies like this if they are dragged there on a date night!  So, the audience mix was something I took notice of.

So, how did it stack up against The Notebook and Message In A Bottle?  Let me just say that they didn’t lose their spots on my list of favorites, but this one will likely be added a little below them!  I liked it a lot, but I’m not sure I loved it!  And, yeah – all those guys that were there probably found something they liked about it, too!  There was a nice mix of military scenes, as well!

If you haven’t seen the trailers, here is a synopsis:  Channing Tatum is John Tyree – a Special Forces soldier on a two-week leave in his home near Charleston, SC.  Amanda Seyfried is Savannah Curtis – a college student he meets there.  They are immediately attracted to each other and spend a lot of time together.  By the end of his two-week leave, they fall in love and promise to write each other about everything they do so that they can be together even if they are a world apart!  The letters and another brief leave keep them close.  But, after 9-11 John re-enlists instead of coming home to Savannah, as promised, time and distance starts to take its toll on their relationship.  Notable supporting stories include John’s father who is a shy recluse with a passion for his extensive coin collection and Savannah’s friend, Tim, and his autistic son Alan.  These characters intertwine throughout John and Savannah’s relationship binding them all in ways that both strengthen and weaken the relationship in various ways.

The acting is not bad, but a little less than stellar, with the exception of veteran actor Richard Jenkins’ performance as John’s father.  The saving grace in the performances was that Tatum and Seyfried both do a good job of showing their emotions in their faces.  Jenkin’s performance of Mr. Tyree was touching and emotional – he pulled me into his life and made me feel his pain.  There is a scene toward the end of the movie with John and his Dad that was heart wrenching and the one scene that brought me to tears!  Tatum stepped up and gave an amazing performance.  Jenkin’s didn’t say a word, but one gesture tore me up!

I didn’t read the book, but it was obvious that the girls who sat behind me did — when the movie ended, they said “That’s the end?  They changed the whole story!”   I don’t know how the book ended, but I thought the movie ended too soon!  I was left with the need to draw my own conclusions… the hint of a happy ending true…..was John out of the military or just on a leave – which might imply the time and distance may continue to be an issue…..I usually like movies that don’t necessarily answer all the questions an ending may leave, but this was different somehow – I wanted to see more.

All that aside, I did enjoy this movie and found it to be heart warming and heart wrenching all wrapped up in a believable and endearing story.  It was a love story not only of two young lovers struggling to keep their love alive against the odds, but also of a son who nearly missed the chance to ensure his father knows how much he loved him and of a deep friendship that drives a young woman to an act of love based responsibility.  And on the more superficial side — Channing Tatum is an incredible addition to the scenery!!

Dear John was good and I highly recommend it – just don’t expect another The Notebook or Message in a Bottle – expect a touching story of lives that are real and multi-faceted and you won’t be disappointed.  I rate this one a B+.

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