Each time a Nicholas Sparks novel is turned into a movie, fans likely expect his words to be translated into a masterpiece film.
But with the exception of ‘The Notebook,” every Sparks adaptation so far has been disappointing, such as ‘A Walk to Remember” and ‘Nights in Rodanthe.” Despite the fact these movies featured big name stars like Mandy Moore, Richard Gere, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, Sparks’ stories always seem to lose their sparkle when translated onto the big screen.
‘Dear John” is no exception, even though it is based on a heartbreakingly poignant story. Channing Tatum plays John, a lovesick solider who always tries to do the right thing. His character is a typical moody young adult, with an unhappy childhood and the belief that he will never find true happiness.
That changes, of course, when he meets Savannah (Amanda Seyfried). True to the formula of pretty much every romance Sparks writes about, John soon falls madly in love with Savannah and the audience is lead to believe that it can sit back and watch a story about two soulmates unfold.
But John’s military duty soon whisks him away from Savannah, causing great strain on their relationship. Both characters are pulled in too many different directions at once as they struggle to maintain their withering love.
Savannah can’t comfort John when he is in battle any more than he can comfort her when she’s feeling lonely back at home. But the two begin a written correspondence to keep their connection alive, which inspires the title of the movie.
Unlike the novel, this movie does not flow smoothly enough and the plot races ahead much too quickly for the audience to develop any true sympathy for these characters.
Tatum delivers what might be his worst screen performance yet, sadly proving that he might only be good for pathetic romantic comedies and mindless dancing in musicals. His utter lack of emotion renders it impossible for the audience to believe in any real love connection between John and Savannah.
As a leading man, Tatum might appear enticing, but his performance in this film ruined my optimism for any future projects he will be involved in.
Meanwhile, Seyfried spends much time staring out to the audience and delivers her lines in a robotic fashion that contradicts the heartbreak her character is supposed to be experiencing.
The acting is atrocious and the story’s sentiments are so poorly developed and rushed that the audience gets no emotional closure out of the movie. The entire film, which should have been a perfect movie for couples, is more of a comical failure than anything else.
Once again it has been proven that some works of literature are simply not meant to be cinematic ventures, especially those by Sparks. Another film adaptation of a Sparks novel, ‘The Last Song” (starring Miley Cyrus), is due out later this year, and will certainly benefit from the massive box office success of this film. But after seeing ‘Dear John,” I never want to see another film adaptation of a Sparks novel again.
Leonard is a member of the class of 2013.