Movie Review: Dear John

One for the Twilight crowd to sob along to

Dear John

Cert: 12A, 105 mins
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum

Essentially a feature-length version of [a]Green Day[/a]’s When September Ends video, Dear John – which toppled Avatar at the US box office – sees September 11 used as a reason for Amanda Seyfried to send romantic, soulful, brow-furrowing letters to soldier Channing Tatum, who in turn does his best not to let his bottom lip wobble while he’s being shot at.

Get over the slight unease at how September 11 is being wedged into a sugary Hollywood romance as a plot device, and this is an inoffensive, if saccharine tale, aimed solely at teenage girls to give them something other than the Twilight series to weep along to. Sob-porn.

The set-up sees Seyfried as the fresh-faced clean-living (ie dull) girl Savannah. She meets Tatum‘s soldier hunk while he’s on leave, and when he must go back to serve his country, decides to wait around and send soppy letters until he returns. That ends up being for longer than either expected, however – some planes have just been flown into the twin towers, and tough decisions must be made…

Seyfried – a girl with more eye than face – finds herself stretched even with this simple stuff, saying things like “Wow – that’s amazing!” that don’t just sound unconvincing, but like someone else is saying them, and saying them a little too quickly. The overall effect is someone forever being sarcastic – never a good thing for a wartime romance where you have to tell someone you love them and hope they come back alive.

Dig beneath the surface of its fuzzy, emotional, tear-dripped exterior, and there’s something quite terrifying about Dear John: a coldly efficient machine at work, ruthlessly hitting big emotional notes at regular intervals as time leaps forward. What follows has more than a hint of Forrest Gump – and not in a good way. It’ll probably be a smash hit.

Stuart McGurk