CATEGORIES Reviews
Scene from Dear JohnWhen Dear John opened in the US with $30million back in February, many commentators were taken by surprise, as if a romantic weepie from The Notebook author Nicholas Sparks, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, wasn't self-evidently a commercially appealing package. But then that's not the first time the purchase power of the female audience has been underestimated.

Find out how we think a UK audience will take to it after the jump... Scene from Dear JohnDear John (12A)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Running time: 108 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here

The plot:
When Dear John opened in the US with $30million back in February, many commentators were taken by surprise, as if a romantic weepie from The Notebook author Nicholas Sparks, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, wasn't self-evidently a commercially appealing package. But then that's not the first time the purchase power of the female audience has been underestimated. In South Carolina in 2001, Special Forces soldier John (Tatum) is on leave visiting his dad when he meets student Savannah (Seyfried) on spring break. He has two weeks of leave before returning to the army, and in that time they fall hard for each other. He plans to quit the military soon, but when the 9/11 terror attacks occur, his whole unit patriotically signs up for another term of service. Can John and Savannah's love survive those long months and years apart, with only letters to tell each other how they feel?

What's good about it? This is formula stuff, but it's a formula that works. You want to see pretty young people facing heartbreaking obstacles to be together? Well, this is that. Former Abercrombie & Fitch model Tatum may not have the acting range of The Notebook star Ryan Gosling, but luckily doting and brooding are well within it. Unexpectedly, the most touching relationship turns out to be between John and his coin-collecting, routine-prone dad (The Visitor's Richard Jenkins), and there's a hospital scene between them that will have you reaching for your Kleenex.

What's not so good? With Sparks books, the familiarity of the content is leading to diminishing returns. Not only is Dear John heavily reminiscent of The Notebook, it also receives echoes in upcoming Miley Cyrus vehicle The Last Song, including the southern beach-community setting and parental illness. And Dear John is actually more suited to the page, rather than the screen: it's not ideal that the besotted pair can't be placed in the same frame for much of the running time.

Verdict: Six-foot-one Tatum and five-foot-three Seyfried might seem like a physical mismatch, but fans of this genre will be rooting for them to bridge the distance.

Rating: 6 out of 10