Dear John, The Movie: I wasn't at all interested when it came out. In the immortal words of Mike Chang, "I want Channing Tatum to stop being in stuff," and Amanda Seyfried annoys me more than words can express with her bushbaby eyes. I also want Nicholas Sparks to stop writing stuff that gets turned into movies, so clearly, this movie does not have a lot going for it.
[note: in the interest of full disclosure, this was written on Sunday night and I just didn't get around to posting it.]
But when I saw it at the library, the cover suddenly looked super attractive to me, so I figured what the hell. Channing Tatum with just-barely-decent-length hair reminds me of Chase on last fall's Survivor, who won me over and whom I in turn modeled the male half of the couple in Breathing after; yadda yadda yadda, the Southern gentleman type of few words and strong moral center appeals to me.
It starts out all right. Amanda Seyfried's amazing long hair makes up for her face, and her character is apparently about as vice-free as a nun, which I do not buy from Amanda Seyfried AT ALL, but if they want to pretend then I'm all for it. She also rides horses and there is an autistic kid who dotes on her and vice versa. It is pretty hilarious to me that you can meet someone and fall in love in the span of 2 weeks, especially enough to commit to one year of long distance, but again, sure, if you want to go that way and have the guy be the strong link full of promises he intends to keep, bring it on!
I will even make it like 45% of the way through that scene o' sensuality, I like them so much, although I will eventually cut and run because censored or not, my patience for even the top-caliber, lyrical ballet style of onscreen lovemaking is super short. But points for trying!
Midway through the movie, though, the letters stop coming because while he was off overseas, she was busy cheating on him and getting engaged behind his back. ON NOTICE, FILM. Gonna have to do a real good job of convincing me this is a worthwhile high point of conflict, because I traditionally do not respond well to stories once they introduce extracurricular engagements.
And then all of a sudden it's 5 years later, so the chances for positive reconciliation plummet and with them my good will. OK, so two weeks and then a year of letters is probably not how you would find your soulmate in real life, but you made me believe it, despite avowed disinterest in either lead! Plus it turns out that Channing Tatum can actually shine if given just the right material to work with. I really enjoyed the fleeting portion of the film where he carried the story alone to resolve the issues with his dad.
When we return to the main plot strand, the previously unnamed husband is, in a not-at-all-shocking turn of events, autistic kid's dad. Who is kind of an asshole for doing what he did, given that he and John were on pretty friendly terms before, but whatever. Fine, she got married and it's not ideal, but it's also 5 years later so I have stopped caring about her relationship with John. No harm, no foul. Plus her husband has cancer, so that might be how they plan to hit the reset button, not that it's really necessary because my brain has moved on and so has...
NO WAIT. "She still loves you, you know. She's never looked at me the way she used to look at you."
*throws up hands* ASSHOLES. No! Everyone in this movie is terrible! WHY DID YOU EVEN DUMP HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE? If you are going to asshole-out of a relationship, at least commit to it. Not to mention how super cliche that line is. This, right here, is some spectacularly cheeseball and frankly cop-out-y and horrible writing. Can the story just end with him and his dad, since she seems less central to the plot than previously assumed?
Ugh. I am 15 minutes from the end and I have fought the good fight but it just went downhill so FAST that I don't know if I can stand to suffer through any more. Why is it so hard to find movies that hook your interest from the beginning, present a solid plot, and finish strong? It's like every film is just looking for an excuse to jump off the nearest cliff and go down in flames.
(I am fighting through it. EVERYTHING SHE SAYS MAKES ME WANT TO INJURE HER. NOTHING ABOUT THIS BREAKUP MAKES ANY SENSE. IT IS ALMOST LIKE SOME WRITER NEEDED TO HAVE CONFLICT TO MAKE A MARKETABLE STORY.)
(ending: ...the hell even is that? A hug I will happily construe as platonic, some additional indeterminate amount of time more than 2 months later? I mean, I know I have been yelling "NO!" about this relationship rekindling for 10 minutes straight, but I still kind of expected it. Why was this story even made! Did they chop out half of the book and leave out all the parts that made it make sense?)
In conclusion, this movie managed to overcome its original handicaps, only to commit suicide via the most ridiculous and unsympathetic relationship speed bumps imaginable.
Other movies I have picked up for the week ahead: Journey to the Center of the Earth (previously shunned for genre and now invited back on the Brendan Fraser Makes Movies Awesome train), Leap Year (this film looks boring. Matthew Goode is SO BLAND. I am only seeing it because people told me I had to, and/or because of the Amy Adams Makes Movies Better principle), The Lovely Bones, and something called Evelyn that I picked up because, what's that, Pierce Brosnan + fatherhood role + adorable little girl = GIVE IT NOW. Which one seems least likely to fail right off the bat? I choose the first one. Fraser's first two episodes of Scrubs were on last week and every time they air I marvel anew at how much I adore them.
EDIT: Back to books, has anyone ever read The Egg and I by Betty Macdonald, memoir by the author of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books? I picked it up by chance from the library and my whole family ended up loving it. Now we want the sequels, except the library doesn't have any more, I see rumors about them being out of print, and I can't seem to find anything online for less than $10-20 per individual book. BOO. I was going to add them to my list of Used Bookstore/Sale Quests, but hunting through vintage nonfiction isn't real fun, and I feel discouraged already. Still. Fingers crossed, yeah?