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Movie Review

A Walk to Remember

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Directed by Adam Shankman, starring Mandy Moore, Shane West, Peter Coyote and Daryl Hannah.

After a prank leaves a classmate in hospital, school smartass Landon Carter (West), gets a last warning from his wits end principal and some hefty punishment. Not only must he teach revision classes on Saturdays but he has to sign up to star in the school play. Both assignments bring him into contact with Jamie Sullivan (Moore), the dowdy preacher's daughter who cares little about what the school's cool crew think of her and spends time trying to be herself - and helping others. Carter, naturally, is having none of it, but the longer he spends with Jamie, the more faith he has in himself.

Sure, it's easy to see the puddles of sugar and slush dripping from the screen but any film which opens with The Breeders' 'Cannonball' can't be all bad. And while it plays like 'Love Story' with a backpack, 'A Walk to Remember' does have a plus point: Mandy Moore. Teen singers deciding that three-minute pop videos can't do justice to their dramatic range is usually a reason never to leave the house, but Moore shows that she can act. Surrounded by clichéd supporting characters, she gives a performance which suggests that more complex roles can't be too far off. Her onscreen turnaround of West's Carter does happen too quickly, but it's not the worst you'll ever see and West is far more likeable than the surly youth with a discman he's expected to be.

The biggest criticism you can level at Shankman for this film is that he's unsure exactly what age group he's pitching it to. After setting up a tragedy for young love, he then backs out of a tearful finale, almost as if he's worried the kids watching can't take it. There are also too many songs across the movie - the one Moore sings onscreen has its place but the rest just leave you wanting more dialogue. Shankman should have given Moore, West and the audience a little more credit for what they could handle. No one was expecting 'Remains of the Day' but this film could have been more than just a 'Dawson's Creek' stop gap.

Harry Guerin

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