Mr. Movie

'Dear John' deserves Dear John letter

Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra) is John.

It’s pre-9/11, and he’s a special ops soldier and former bad kid who falls for the rich and beautiful Savannah.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) is the heartbreaker in the screen adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel by directing legend Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat).

As always, Hallstrom’s movie is beautifully shot and edited. It is a visual feast.

Tatum is a promising young charismatic hunk. He’s likable. What Tatum isn’t is talented. Doing straight-ahead guy stuff, he’s not bad. When the need arises for emotional, from-the-gut passion, Tatum’s performance is as flat as his perfectly-toned abs.

Seyfried is Hollywood’s newest girl-next-door. She, too, is adequate in the role.

Their whirlwind romance ends up with pledges of eternal love and the promise of wedded-bliss as he heads to unknown and dangerous lands for the final year of his tour of duty. She’s off to school. Hallstrom weaves John and Savannah’s story together with voice overs of the characters reading their letters as each goes about their lives. John is in battle. Savannah pontificates.

If you think that’s overwritten, wait until you see the movie.

Admittedly, two charismatic young actors, some outstanding support from two old pros and a plausible love story do hook you for the first two acts. Tatum and Seyfried are excellent together and Jamie Linden’s (We Are Marshall) screenplay isn’t bad through acts one and two.

By act three, this sentimental twaddle bounces all over the place trying to find some sort of a center. It never does. Dear John finally self-destructs and ends up on life-support and in desperate need of its own Dear John letter. Something like: Dear John, I’ve found someone else. Something better. A love story is playing in theater next door. I hear it’s not nearly as boring as you.

Something about vampires, twilight and new moons.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, Feb. 5 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.