Dear John (Blu-Ray)
“The best romantic couple since THE NOTEBOOK” this is a terribly misrepresented quote plastered on the DEAR JOHN Blu-ray case. It is true that Nicholas Sparks is the author of both books but it is definitely false that these characters have anywhere near the romantic depth and love compared to Noah and Allie.
Special Forces Army Sergeant John Tyree (Channing Tatum) is on leave for a couple of weeks. While at home, he meets the sweet, giving Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried). Their love quickly grows in the short time span and they promise to write each other over his last 12 months of enlistment. After the 9/11 attacks, John reenlists and their long distant love is put to a heavier challenge.
The major problem is that we don’t connect with the characters or their love. I think both actors are charismatic enough but the connection seems like one of those passing moment crushes that we have all encountered on a trip or vacation that we never hear from again. Meeting each other’s family, helps connect them but I specifically can’t understand Savannah’s love attraction toward John. True, he has a chiseled military body, but he has zero personality and even seems to have a few anger issues which is inexplicably presented early on, only to be quickly discarded and never heard from again.
Many scenes are bit improvised in their dialogue to give a more natural feeling. Well that works, if the two people are veteran actors and have more of a romantic chemistry. The scenes are definitely natural but they are natural in the awkward date that would not become a love connection. We see a date begin then we jump to a later point in the date where they are just getting to basic questions. So are we to believe that they’ve been talking on and on for hours? Because I believe it was just one long awkward pause.
To be fair, some scenes worked okay. Seyfried has a naturally bubbly spirit that felt true as a character willing to help people. I can understand her feelings for John, but only as a fixing project not true love. Channing is not quite at the level that his performance needed to be. His “quiet strength” consisted of him grinding his back teeth so his jaw flexed. He did shine at moments specifically in a touching scene with his mildly autistic father (Richard Jenkins). Which brings me to the supporting actors. Jenkins along with Henry Thomas as a close friend to Savannah and single father to an autistic child brought a weight to their performances that definitely grounded the film and made it stronger. I actually cared more about their storylines than our two distant lovers.
In the end, the love-connection and some of the family drama felt a bit forced and gimmicky. The young actors show lots of promise but I’m not sure they can handle the range quite yet. My recommendation would be to skip the film but listen to the smooth sounds of the soundtrack featuring “Paperweight” by Joshua Radin & Schuler Fisk.
Video: The picture was okay with the exception of a few spots at the beginning that seem a bit out of place and grainy.
Audio: The sound was decent but a couple of times I had to use the captions to understand Channing’s mumbling dialogue.
Alternate Ending (3:41): A longer narration of the final letter from Savannah
Outtakes (2:24): This is a pitiful excuse for an outtakes reel.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes (10:13): 12 scenes that were excusably cut either for redundancy or bad acting.
A Conversation with Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried and Lasse Hallstrom (5:24): They all talk lovingly upon working with each other.
Transforming Charleston (14:51): The art director talks about making Charleston look as if it were in Afghanistan, Africa or other location spots in the film. This is always impressive to me and makes me wonder, how much money goes toward this aspect?
Military in Movies: Dear John’s Military Advisors (11:03): A few of the military advisors talk in detail about a soldiers outlook. They discuss the different transitions and changes the military took in the time span the film takes place in, especially through 9/11.
Mr. Tyree, The Mule, and Benny Dietz (4:53): A more detailed look at the history and different coins and the mules which are two coins mixed to become one.
The Story of Braeden Reed (24:33): This goes into detail about the young autistic actor playing an autistic character. They discuss the benefits and challenges of working with an autistic child and how most of the actors ad-libbing when it came to him.