Set in 2001, Channing Tatum and his Abs of Steel star as John Tyree - a special forces soldier visiting his father ( Richard Jenkins) in South Carolina. While hanging out at the beach, John shows off his skills by rescuing a purse dropped into the ocean by Savannah (Amanda Seyfried). Because he has Abs of Steel and she looks good in a bikini and mini-skirt, the two fall in lust/love.
Will either of them meet a new love?
Will absence make the heart grow fonder?
Channing Tatum and his Abs of Steel only serve as the heartthrob because he has Abs of Steel that look good when he is shirtless and walking along the beach. He doesn't sound smart or romantic when he speaks, and the man has no apparent charm or twinkle in his eyes that can melt a woman's heart. He can only melt their panties.
Director Lasse Hallstrom and writer Jamie Linden (based on the book by Nicholas Sparks) deliver a film with no magic, no romance, no excitement, no feeling, no emotion, and no soul. This is not a love affair that springs from something real that captures the audience's imagination and heart. It doesn't evolve as the two get to know more about each other because the characters are so thinly written, there isn't much to learn about them. The only reason we can imagine the two of them are in a relationship is because both are attractive people on the outside, even if they appear blank and empty on the inside.
I'm not sure how true to the book the movie is, but Linden takes Dear John in all of the wrong directions. Linden doesn't make the letters back and forth between John and Savannah compelling or poignant in any way, which adds to the feeling that these two are far from this generation's Romeo and Juliet (maybe they are more like this generation's Joanie and Chachi). Then, Dear John becomes all about everything but the romance. Linden, probably realizing the romance is fizzling beyond salvation, starts to make Dear John about the only interesting figure in the movie - John's father.
Jenkins is great as the father who obviously is struggling with some sort of difficulties, and shows more talent in one scene than Tatum and Seyfried do in the entire movie, but this is supposed to be a romance. His storyline just adds to the feeling this movie is going on and on and on with no end in sight.
Dear John is one of those movies people enjoy because they go in hoping for a moving, romantic experience and their heads are too afraid to let down their hearts. It's a form of denial only Dr. Phil could explain to us.
½ Waffle (Out of 4)
Dear John is rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence.