Release Date (UK) – 14 April 2010
Certificate (UK) – 12A
Country – USA
Director – Lasse Hallström
Runtime – 105 mins
Starring – Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried
Dear John is the film that finally pushed Avatar of the number box office spot in America, as Channing Tatum’s somewhat obsessive fans finally outnumbered the hoards of geeks watching Avatar for the fourth or fifth time.
Based on a novel by Nicolas Sparks (who also wrote The Notebook) John Tyree (Tatum) is on leave from the army when he meets Savannah Curtis (Seyfried). After a whirlwind romance they decide to try and make their relationship work when John returns to the army to serve out the rest of his contract, and they begin to write letters to each other (hence the films title). Set in 2001 when the September 11th attacks hit America, John is torn between following his other colleagues and signing on to serve the army for another term, or returning home to Savannah.
Seyfried and Tatum both give believable performances. Seyfried is best known for her musical performance in Mamma Mia, but one improvised scene where she sings and plays the guitar is quite cringe worthy as she is badly off key. John is perhaps Tatum’s most dramatically serious character to date, and although he still gets plenty of chances to take his top off he does manage to convey the depth of emotions needed for the story to be credible. A sub-plot involving autism, both in the case of John’s father (Richard Jenkins) and the young son of Savannah’s friend doesn’t really address the subject very profoundly, but it’s good to see such a mainstream film mention the subject.
Dear John is a straight out romance-fuelled tearjerker that ticks all the usual genre boxes. However it doesn’t go overboard on the soppiness, and the action scenes where John is out at war will placate any reluctant boyfriends who weren’t looking forward to accompanying their girlfriends to watch the film. Although Tatum has a massive teen following, Dear John isn’t a dull star vehicle in the way Fighting or Step Up was. Instead it’s an emotional tale which will resonate with anyone who’s ever been in a long distance relationship of sorts.
With its conventional romance story and chain of events Dear John is not a revealing or particularly exciting watch but its certainly enjoyable, and occasionally tackles some interesting issues whether it be about love, relationships or duty. Its light hearted enough to satisfy most viewers by most but the target audience is definitely a female one.