Review: Dear John

rating: Kudos

“Dear John” is very completely and definitely for the ladies. Full of tears, romance (a lot of it) and Channing Tatum’s bare chest, this film from a novel by tear magnet Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook”) is without a doubt a chick flick… and it’s a good one.

Channing Tatum (“Fighting,” “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) plays John Tyree, a soldier in the Special Forces who, one day on the beach, meets Savannah (Amanda Seyfried, “Mama Mia!,” “Jennifer’s Body”) who is on spring break from her final year in college. The story takes place in the summer of 2001. The two have two weeks to get to know each other and naturally romance occurs at just the right times.

John has a tough relationship with his father, who might be autistic. His father (“Six Feet Under’s” Richard Jenkins) collects coins, and has quite a lot of them. Savannah takes interest in John’s father while John is mysteriously uninterested in the collection. John’s father takes a liking to Savannah, and even makes extra dinner for her when the three have dinner.

The two weeks end, and John and Savannah share a heartfelt goodbye, with a promise to write to each other. John’s tour of duty is almost over and soon he will be back in her arms. Until the events of 9/11 occur. John is forced to make a decision: follow his buddies into another tour, extending his long-distance romance with Savannah, or go back home to the woman he loves.

Someone will no doubt say that John’s decision to stay is a classic “bros before hos” sort of reaction; that he really wants to stay away from all that “touchy-feely” stuff. I disagree entirely. Right after 9/11 everyone wanted to do their part. Patriotism ran rampant across the country. Suddenly, the soldiers were superheroes. And they wanted more than ever to fight. John feels he is doing his duty. But he doesn’t know the strain he’s putting on Savannah.

The movie is fine. It’s a good love story. Not great, but entertaining. I have no doubt plenty of people will cry through the movie.

That said, I must mention Channing Tatum. Tatum has given the same performance in every film he’s ever been in. He’s like a poor man’s Keanu Reeves. He picks the same role every time! I’m not dissing on Tatum’s performance in this film. The part was perfect for him. But it’s the same character from “Fighting,” “G.I. Joe,” and his upcoming film “The Eagle of the Ninth.” I guess that’s wise on his part. Do the same thing every time. This works sometimes, but I want more out of him. I’ve got enough big tough guys who can’t act.

Amanda Seyfried does well as Savannah. She’s beautiful and lovely. The part could be played by anyone else her age, but “anyone else” doesn’t have those expressive, heart-melting eyes. Hmmm… Channing Tatum: hot bod who picks easy roles. Amanda Seyfried: hot bod who picks easy roles… it occurs to me this film’s biggest draw may be the hot bods, not the characters.

Even so, I still liked “Dear John.” It melted my romantic side and kept me entertained for two hours. If anything, it’s a great date movie.

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