The reigning king of goopy, folksy, ham-fisted romantic fiction, Nicholas Sparks, is back, and this time with his schmaltzy guns a’blazing. We’ve got not one, but two, autistic characters (one of whom has a stroke — take that Rain Man), war, beefcake, gunfights, cancer, 9/11, and even a great big explosion. It’s exactly as manipulative and overwrought as you might expect, and just as solemn and overly serious as you might fear. The gist of this adaptation of Sparks’ novel of the same name is that Green Beret John (Channing Tatum) falls madly in love with the girl of his dreams, Savannah (Amanda Seyfried), while on leave. Though he’s a nice enough guy, John also has a past of teenage rebellion that appears to be limited to causing ruckuses at seafood restaurants. But deep down, John’s really a big softie, and after their fortnight of trysting, he and Savannah decide to keep up a relationship through correspondence — and to stay faithful to one another — while John is shipped out overseas to finish up his tour of duty. Then 9/11 happens and John reenlists and Savannah decides to marry someone else rather than carry on this long-distance romance that’s mostly grounded in one night of PG-13 passion in a stable. Much moping — and a whole lot of soap — follows. If that — and the fact it’s from a Sparks novel, meaning there are no happy endings, only noble ones — appeals to you, go for it.
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Nicholas Sparks and Jamie Linden
Producer: Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey
Cast: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Henry Thomas, Richard Jenkins, Scott Porter, Leslea Fisher, Cullen Moss, Mary Rachel Dudley, Michael Harding and June Letourneau