In the Picture

Dear John

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Rated M

Lasse Hallstrom directed Abba’s first filmclips. They were full of joy, whimsy, original material and ran for less than three minutes.

Hallstrom also directed Dear John, which was full of tedium, pain, clichés and ran for nearly two hours.

This movie was so boring I was actually wishing for commercials so that I could have a break from the monotony. I’ve watched infomercials that had a more believable plot and deeper emotional portrayals by the actors.

It reminded me of those poorly written romance stories that used to run in the Women’s Weekly (maybe they still do) and then get made into straight-to-television mini series.

Normally I don’t give away the plot but as I’m recommending not seeing this movie unless marched at gun point to a cinema and then given the choice of reading the book this terrible movie is based on (actually I haven’t read it but it would need to have been written with the literary skill and innovation of James Joyce or Virginia Woolf to make up for the lack of interesting plot).

The female lead, played by Amanda Seyfried (who seems too young to have an Abba thing but she was the star of Mamma Mia, which at least had a decent soundtrack) is a college student who doesn’t drink, smoke or sleep around (things have certainly changed since I was an undergraduate) and in her spare time constructs houses for poor people who have carelessly lost theirs in hurricanes. She meets Sgt John Tyree (Channing Tatum), who apparently has been in the army since he was 16, having gone off the rails due to the stress of having to live with his autistic father. They fall in love and like any people in the throes of first passion, believe it’s going to last forever. (Well, at least a year long distance while he goes off to serve for the nice, benign US army and she goes back to college to continue not drinking, smoking or having sex).

Key the World Trade Centre disaster. Of course our hero chooses country and platoon over the selfish choice of his good woman at home (take note, Michael Clarke) and then they make the same mistake that young people in slasher movies have been making for decades and have sex, causing Bad Things to Happen. In this case Bad Things are breaking up, cancer, death and getting shot.

But don’t worry, cause it all works out in the end (as if a movie as completely devoid of any originality as this one could ever have had anything but a happy ending, except for the poor people watching it).

The emotional depth of these characters is about as shallow as a wading pool for midget ants; they stretch the gamut from pining to morose and when the emotional climax finally does come, it’s so unbelievable it could almost make you laugh if you weren’t traumatised by the complete tedium of the preceding hour and a half.

I appreciate that being in the armed forces is probably boring at times, as is waiting at home chastely for your beloved, but I don’t think that translates to a good film script and the montage scenes to represent time passing only served to make me resent the fact that time was passing and I was wasting it watching this complete wet, smelly sock of a movie. I would have rather been doing my tax (and I owe the government money this year).

The only redeeming feature of this movie was that I was the only person in the cinema, so at least I knew other people hadn’t wasted their hard-earned cash.

This movie is an insomniac’s dream; unfortunately I’d just consumed some lovely strong coffee before I went so I was wide awake for every tortuous minute.

This is the most boring movie I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to complain my way through. Don’t bother unless someone is paying you and even then, ask for more money.

No stars


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