Channing Tatum stars as a soldier who, while home on leave, falls for a do-gooder college student played by Amanda Seyfried in the sappy "Dear John." (Screen Gems)
For a while it looks like "Dear John" might not turn out to be a big pile of goop.
And there's precedent for this. In 2004, a good director (Nick Cassavetes) took two talented young stars (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) and managed to turn a novel by Nicholas Sparks into a magnificent film romance called "The Notebook."
Well, "Dear John," adapted from another Sparks novel, has a good director in Lasse Hallstrom ("The Cider House Rules," "Chocolat") and two talented young stars in Amanda Seyfried ("Mamma Mia!") and Channing Tatum ("Fighting").
And despite traveling in great fields of corn from the very beginning, the assembled talent seems to be hitting the right tone for much of the movie.
But then comes a Big Plot Twist that's an absolute groaner, which is then followed by more groaners. And what you end up with is indeed a big pile of goop.
Tatum plays John Tyree, a Special Forces Army sergeant home on leave from some war when he meets do-gooder college student Savannah (Seyfried). She's the type of girl who spends her vacations building houses for the homeless and befriending autistic kids.
John, whose coin-collecting father (Richard Jenkins) may himself be functionally autistic, returns to war, and the young lovers begin a series of romantic letters to one another.
Until she writes him a "Dear John" letter, the cause of which will provide the film's first groan and set the stage for more groans to follow.
There are those, of course, who like big piles of goop, and this movie will surely soak their hankies. For most, though, it will serve as a reminder of how hard it is to make a good romance, and of how good "The Notebook" was.