— by RACHEL COYNE —
Make sure your supply of Kleenex is replenished, because just in time for Valentine’s Day we have a new tearjerker based on a Nicholas Sparks novel coming to theaters.
“Dear John” is the story of a U.S. soldier named John, who meets and falls for a cute conservative college student, Savannah, while home for a two-week leave. They revel in their brief romance before John has to report back for duty and vow to write letters to each other until he can return for good, so “it’ll be like we’re with each other all the time, even if we’re not with each other at all.”
But just when his time is almost up and they can finally be together, 9/11 happens and John feels obligated to extend his service, which upsets Savannah to no end. What will become of their relationship? Will John survive being in active duty? Will Savannah wait for him? And *sob* what about all the letters?!
I am not a fan of the term “chick flick” due to all the misguided negative connotations the label carries. But even I will admit that movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ tragic romance books are straight up chick flick fare — three-tissue weepers generated to tug at heartstrings — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
While I wouldn’t want to watch them daily (or weekly … or monthly), the occasional sobfest can be cathartic if the movie is done right (and you’re in the privacy of your own home).
So far, the other Sparks-inspired movies have been a mixed bag. When I’m in the right mood, “A Walk to Remember” and “The Notebook” can touch on emotions I often forget I have. But “Nights in Rodanthe” left me cold, and I can’t even force myself to care about “Message in a Bottle.” While I’m not sure how much more 9/11-inspired drama I can take, I do like the concept of using letter writing in a modern setting, since it’s such a romantic art that isn’t used anymore.
I’m also impressed with the casting of Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried as the star-crossed lovers in “Dear John”; Tatum is rugged enough for the Army, yet sensitive enough for a romantic lead, and Seyfried is just lovely all around. I’ll plan to eventually rent this on a night when I don’t feel like doing anything other than sitting on my couch, in the dark, and don’t have to worry about going to work the next morning with a puffy face.
I do have one quick question for the trailer editors: What is going on with the whooshing movie title at the beginning? I felt like I was being set up for a superhero movie trailer, which is definitely not the case (to put it mildly).
“Dear John” will make you bawl like a baby on Feb. 5, 2010.
Follow Rachel Coyne on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TheOpinionatedB.