You know that your winter break has taken an unexpected turn for the worse when the next item on your to-do list is to see “Not Another Teen Movie.” Full of characters like the token black guy, the pretty “ugly” girl and the marching band pervert, the movie is supposed to represent all that is dark in the world of teen comedies. Why the first half of “A Walk to Remember” embodies these characteristics escapes me, for the movie is supposed to be an emotional symphony. Instead, it becomes a cacophony of poop.
If the casting of Mandy Moore as Jamie Sullivan, the female lead, doesn’t convince you, just wait till the storyline douses you in melodrama and two Moore solos.
Directed by Adam Shankman, the movie focuses on Landon Carter (Shane West) who is the typical misguided, popular teenager of a North Carolina high school resembling West Canaan from “Varsity Blues.” After an attempted prank seriously injures a schoolmate, the school principal orders Landon to participate in a tutoring program and the drama club as punishment.
Enter Jamie Sullivan. Daughter of the town’s pastor, the Rev. Sullivan (Peter Coyote), Jamie is the southern Bible-loving version of Laney Boggs from “She’s All That.” Perfect in every way, Jamie tries her best to help Landon change. In an attempt to make up for the poor way he treats her, Landon vows to amend for his ways. Predictably, the two fall in love opening night of their drama club play with the addition of an unscripted kiss to the show.
At this point, Landon ditches his friends (including the token black guy who uses “man” or “brother” every other word) and tries to date Jamie. Oddly enough, Jamie’s father forbids her to date. The new Landon swallows his pride and works up the courage to approach the reverend for his permission to date Jamie. He grants it, and their relationship grows. Oh boy, how original. Without ruining the ending for you, know that the movie takes an absurd twist that tests their love.
To put it simply, the movie has major flaws. While decently acted and directed, the script contains many major incongruities that force audiences repeatedly to suspend their disbelief in order to accept these jumps. Don’t write the movie off just yet though: with a flair not common in sappy teen movies of this type, “A Walk to Remember” engages the audience and, by the end, makes its way into their hearts.
Although riddled with meaningless close-ups, “I love yous,” Mandy Moore songs and horrendous stereotypes, this film has many redeeming qualities. It might not be the perfect film for a late Monday night excursion to North Haven, but for a simple, no thought, feel-good ending, it will work.
Besides, watching Mandy Moore try to act is worth the trip.