Positive Message Lifts A Walk to Remember
- Saturday, January 19, 2002
A Walk to Remember - PG
Best for: Young teens and adults who enjoy teen romances.
What it's about: Landon Carter (Shane West) is a popular, good-looking senior in Beaufort, N.C., who, along with his peers, plays a dangerous prank on a fellow student who wants to join their clique. The prank lands the unsuspecting teenager in a hospital. Part of Landon's punishment is working with underprivileged kids and participating in a play. The unlikely star of the show is Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), a serious and conservative student cool kids make fun of because she's outwardly plain and happens to be the daughter of the town's widowed Baptist minister (Peter Coyote.) Landon lands the opposite lead role and asks Jamie to help him learn his lines. As the two get to know each other, Landon sees Jamie's inner strength, faith and positive outlook on life; Jamie sees a boy who has never had anyone believe in him. As the two begin to fall in love, Landon discovers why Jamie is so hesitant for anyone to love her. That secret tests not only their relationship, but their faith. Daryl Hannah and Lauren German also star.
The good: It's not often that a movie about teenage romance has the main characters discuss their dating morals, ethics and future plans. It's even rarer that those same characters discuss the importance of God in their lives and attribute their happiness to their faith.
The story has been done before: a good-looking, popular guy makes fun of a plain and unpopular girl, eventually coming to see who she is on the inside. But this time serious issues are woven into the story. Taking a stand against peer pressure, defending strong moral principles and faith, confronting issues about death and illness, dealing with forgiveness and compassion - these are some of the issues that set this teen romance apart.
West gives a strong performance, skillfully carrying the difficult and awkward scenes between he and Moore, who proves she's not just another pretty pop star (several of her songs, including her video hit, Cry, are on the film's soundtrack). In fact, she's willing to do what many singers/aspiring actresses her age wouldn't dream of doing: playing an unpopular girl who's homely and religious.
It was refreshing to see a story that, for a change, shows teenagers maturing through tough situations and becoming young adults who make a difference in the lives of others.
The not-so-good: My first reaction to Karen Janszen's screenplay was to bristle at the stereotypical portrayal of a Christian character as a plain and unpopular outcast instead of an attractive young woman accepted by her peers. But then I realized that the whole point of Nicholas Sparks' book is to show how a sweet young woman living with her widowed pastor father (and without a mother's influence) in a small Southern town didn't really care what people thought of her on the outside; her character and faith gave her inner strength and confidence, her most important assets. I hope people who are not religious won't overlook that important point and think the "plain" and/or "outcast" image typifies Christian teenagers.
Offensive language: A few slang words.
Sexual situations: Some innocent kissing.
Violence: A boy jumps off of a high ledge into a dark, murky pool and floats to the top injured.
Parental advisory: Parents, you may want to discuss several issues (standing up for your faith with peers, teenage marriage, a teenager's death) with your kids and teens after viewing the film. Overall, this is an unusual teen romance with a touching message for today's teens and a positive, uplifting message they will enjoy and relate to. Adults will appreciate it if they like teen romances or stories dealing with single-parent dilemmas. However, mature issues and themes make this an inappropriate movie for kids under 10.
Bottom line: I liked this film for the overall positive message it delivers and hopefully will have on the teenagers and kids who see it.
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