'Dear John' is one of those movies that is initially sweet but very quickly turns sour. Fans of Nicholas Sparks' previous adaptations, particularly 'The Notebook', should be warned that this one just doesn't hit that believable romantic note that they might be expecting.
John Tyree (Tatum) is on a leave of absence from the army, surfing, spending a bit of time with his father (Jenkins) and trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow, which seems all the more possible when he meets good girl Savannah (Seyfried). The pair hit it off instantly, spending every moment together until duty calls for John and college calls for Savannah. But before they part they make a promise, to tell each other everything that is happening in their lives during their time apart. So they begin to write letters to each other, with John becoming increasingly dependant on the correspondence to get through his tough days on duty far from home.
But, as with every good long-distance romance, there are problems for the pair. And when John decides to re-enlist after 9/11 the relationship is put to the test, despite their best efforts to keep their initial promise.
With an overly sentimental script, that lays everything on too thick, leads Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried are fighting a losing battle from the off. They manage to hold interest at the initial stages of their characters’ romance but it’s all downhill as soon as the mawkish letter-writing kicks off. The movie would be a total write-off but for the stand-out performance of Richard Jenkins, as John’s troubled, coin-collecting father. Convincing and heartbreaking, it injects some much-needed, and genuine, emotion into the movie.
Well-intentioned but ultimately misses the mark.