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Movie Review: Dear John

February 5, 2010

Dear John

http://www.dearjohn-movie.com/

Release Date: February 5th, 2010

Rated PG-13 some sensuality and violence.

Running time: 102 minutes

Lasse Hallström (dir.)

Jamie Linden (screenwriter)

Based on the book Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Deborah Lurie (music)

Channing Tatum as John Tyree

Amanda Seyfried as Savannah Lynn Curtis

Henry Thomas as Tim Wheddon

Scott Porter as Randy

Richard Jenkins as Mr. Tyree

(l to r) Braeden Reed, Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum star in DEAR JOHN, an Alliance Films release.

Our reviews below:

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Dear John Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Richard Jenkins plays a man with Asperger’s syndrome in Dear John. He is brilliant in every scene he’s in. The problem is, he’s not the focus of the story. The main plot of Dear John just happens to be an average, melodramatic and very predictable romance.

John (Channing Tatum) is a soldier going back to war in two weeks. When vacationing with his father, he spends lots of time at the beach. This is mainly just so that the audience can see him surfing. When he sees a bag get knocked into the water, he jumps in to rescue it. Turns out, it belongs to Savannah (Amanda Seyfried), a visiting student. Naturally, they fall in love. And naturally their relationship has to be kept going through the use of “Dear John” letters.

John has a rocky relationship with his father, wonderfully played by the aforementioned Richard Jenkins. The singular moment that rings most true in the film is a scene between John and his dad. It’s touching and beautiful. Some may argue against this scene, but it’s the one thing that holds an otherwise average movie together. Every time Richard Jenkins was on screen, I saw the movie that this could have been.

The combat scenes are well shot, but more played for melodrama rather than true suspense. I predicted nearly every plot-point. That’s not really a complaint, more just an observation. In these kind of letter movies one side always burns all their letters.

Though I’m sure it will be very popular around Valentine’s day, and it is worth seeing for Richard Jenkins, I think Dear John will play just as well on DVD. And that’s more where my recommendation would lie.

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Dear John Review By Erin V.

***1/4 (out of 4)

Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, Dear John is a romantic story of two people who fall in love with each other over two weeks together while on break. They are John, (Channing Tatum), and Savannah, (Amanda Seyfried). Unfortunately, Savannah has to go back to college, and John is only on a temporary leave from the army. Still, they vow to write each other as often as possible, in order to stay close while so far apart.

I found the romantic storyline in this movie to be fairly average as far as these kinds of movies go, but the part that really upped the movie for me was not the relationship between John and Savannah so much as the relationships between them and John’s father, who is a coin collector with Asperger’s syndrome. He is played very well by Richard Jenkins – one of the most accurate portrayals of an individual with Aspergers’ in a movie I’ve seen. It is neither under, nor overplayed.

It was his elements in the story that I found created some of the most real and touching moments. It was these scenes that felt especially real, and it was interesting to see his relationship with his son John, and John’s relationship with him.

I have not read the book, although I am now interested to. I think that says something about a film to actually interest you enough to want to look at the source material. Both autism and Aspergers’ were represented well in the film, and that is one of the reasons that I’d really like to read the book.

I enjoyed the film, although it felt slightly long in a few parts. Still, overall, a good effort on the part of all those involved, and for the audience that’s actually going to buy a ticket to this film, I think they are going to really enjoy it.

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Dear John Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Dear John is a nice low-key romantic movie. Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, the story relays the often long distance love between Savannah and John. From the day Savannah meets, John, they fall in love in only two weeks. When John, who is a soldier in the US army goes over seas, he expects to be back soon. But 911 happens, so John goes over to Afghanistan. While overseas, John and Savannah correspond through a series of letters.

I really liked the romance between Savannah and John. But some of my favourite scenes involve John’s father, who is suggested to have Asperger’s syndrome. He shares his love of mule coins with the people he cares for. The bond between John and his father is sweet and believable. Richard Jenkins is perfectly as an undiagnosed Aspie.

Another side plot involving autism depicts Savannah’s neighbour, Tim and his son Alan, who has mild autism. Both Brandon Reed, (7 year old Alan), and Luke Benward, (14 year old Alan), are very believable as a young autist.

I really liked Dear John. The story, while sad at times, is also very sweet. The acting is really good throughout. This movie will appeal to teens and adults of all ages.

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Dear John Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Dear John is a touching romance based on the novel Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. As a Nicholas Sparks fan I was pleased with this movie adaptation.

The story follows the lead characters John Tyree (Channing Tatum) and Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) as they continue their initial two week spring break romance through a series of letters. Savannah is a college student and John is in the army. When 9/11 happens John’s stay in the army is extended and their love further tested.

Much of the plot is predictable in terms of romantic highs and lows. However Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried are really nice to watch in their roles as John and Savannah. The high point in Dear John is John’s relationship with his father, a quiet man who collects coins and has undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. The father, Mr. Tyree is played beautifully by Richard Jenkins (from the movie The Visitor). Jenkins’ portrayal of Aspergers’ Syndrome is touching and accurate. Also portrayed accurately is Savannah’s young neighbour, Allan who has autism. There are some interesting plot twists involving Allan and his autism.

Overall Dear John is a really nice movie. Be warned there is more than one “keep the tissues handy” scene. However Dear John never descends into melodrama.

Dear John is a good movie choice as Valentine’s Day approaches for those of us who love a good romance story.

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Dear John Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Dear John is a sweet romance based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. In 2000, John Tyree (Channing Tatum) meets Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) while he is on leave from service in the Special Forces, and she is on spring break. Falling in love after two weeks, they promise to keep in touch by letters over the next year until John can come home for good. Just before finishing his tour in the Balkans, the 9/11 attack happens and his unit volunteers for active service in the Middle East. The succeeding several years apart threaten their relationship. What lifts the story from the ordinary is the theme of autism. John’s retired father (Richard Jenkins) is socially awkward, bound by routine and constantly tending his coin collection, i.e. an Aspie. Savannah’s family friend Tim (Henry Thomas, who was Elliot in E.T.) has an autistic son, so she recognizes the Asperger traits in John’s father. When she points this out to John he is at first defensive, unaware that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Savannah is then inspired to specialise in autism for her education degree and start up a horse camp for special needs kids after graduation.

Being totally inoffensive, Dear John can be enjoyed by the whole family, young and old, which may lead some to dismiss it as a Hallmark film in all but name. However, the autism theme, the attractive leads and strong supporting cast, particularly Richard Jenkins, raise it to a slightly higher level.

___________________________________________________________________________Channing Tatum stars in DEAR JOHN, an Alliance Films release.

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Consensus: Dear John is a nice romantic movie to see around Valentine’s Day. While the storyline is fairly average in terms of a love story like this, Richard Jenkins’ portrayal of Aspergers’, makes this one worth seeing. It is a fine film that succeeds in what it was trying to be. *** (Out of 4)

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Richard Jenkins stars in DEAR JOHN, an Alliance Films release.

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