I saw the movie Dear John yesterday, and I was once again reminded why I try to avoid films based on books, and especially books that I enjoyed (see my review here). Of course, there are notable exceptions, – The Blind Side and Slumdog Millionaire come to mind – but I usually walk into the movie theater with high hopes and walk out saying, “Way to ruin a good book!”
It’s not that Dear John was necessarily bad (and I did hear someone in the audience exclaiming that it was better than the book), but it simply did not evoke the same emotions that the novel did. Unlike Sparks’ story which had the urgency of young love and felt eventful, the movie felt slow, lazy and nearly boring. While Channing Tatum fit the role of John Tyree with his rugged looks, he was the same character in Dear John that he was in Fighting, or Step Up, or Step Up 2. However, it may be premature to judge his acting skills, since he seems to be type cast as dark, brooding and waiting to be rescued by love. Actors aside, the movie was different from the book in ways that felt unnecessary and ruined something that was already good.
Dear John the novel was already romantic and hopeful, and the final twists were what prevented it from becoming unrealistically idyllic. The movie dumped a “jar of sugar” on this already sweet story and did not even bother to flesh out their new “perfect” ending. Movie makers just need to realize that book lovers want to see their favorite story brought to life as it was written, not twisted and edited to suit someone’s idea of a marketable movie.