Dear John

Rated 2.0

A soldier home on leave (Channing Tatum) falls in love with a college girl (Amanda Seyfried), and they promise to write each other faithfully. Writer Jamie Linden and director Lasse Hallström bring Nicholas Sparks’ novel blandly to the screen, with Sparks’ market-tested elements intact: young love, strolls along the beach, cruel twists of fate, etc. The setting is early 21st century, but the emotional landscape is World War II with its handwritten, snail-mail letters—and we know what “Dear John letter” meant back then. Tatum, to his credit, flexes his scant actor’s resources to the max, but playing a dedicated letter writer is probably not within his grasp, and he strikes few sparks with the fetching Seyfried. Henry Thomas plays Seyfried’s sensitive neighbor, Richard Jenkins Tatum’s reclusive father.