Equally unremarkable is the character development for any of the supporting cast. From John's possibly autistic father with the borderline obsessive love of coin collecting (a thoroughly underutilized Richard Jenkins) to the hometown father and autistic son also vying for Savannah's affection (Henry Thomas and Braeden Reed, respectively), the characters are more caricatures than actual living, breathing humans.

Not exactly helping matters either is the film's leaden pace. In theory, there's something innately romantic about a couple forced to write letters back and forth to stay in touch. However, what makes for particularly enchanting reading doesn't always translate to an exciting movie, just one of the flaws that drag down what could've been a fascinating love story.

If anything, Dear John is merely big-budget Lifetime, made-for-TV fare. No doubt about it, everything is pretty as a postcard with its ocean views and sweeping landscapes. But if half the attention to aesthetics was invested in the actual script, well, Dear John would be a far stronger flick. Truth be told, I've seen far more compelling stories of lifelong love in the midst of war on Army Wives, and I didn't even have to leave the house.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Social drinking.

  • Language/Profanity:  An instance where God's name is paired with da—, plus a couple of milder profanities.

  • Sex/Nudity:  John and Savannah end up sleeping together once while John is on leave. The love scene is sort of drawn out with lots of passionate kissing, but is mostly done in silhouette. 

  • Violence:  John is shot during a mission, plus there's some extra war-related violence that's not particularly graphic. There's also footage of the Twin Towers collapsing on 9/11.

 

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.