Adam Shankman (2002, Warner Bros.)
Starring Shane West, Mandy Moore, Peter Coyote, and Daryl Hannah
After serving public service for a prank gone wrong, a teen boy comes
to realize love from the kindness of an outcast girl.
August 5th, 2006 on
DVD, for the 3rd time
I wonder if there are any truly
innocent movies about true love developing between two people these
days. One of the reasons that Nicolas Sparks movies and especially the
books, sell so well is because the love is natural, the characters are
true, and people don't hurt each other or believe stupid things like
"I'm not good enough for you". The drama comes naturally, and the
reasons that they have to reconcile and make up come about because of an
illness. Jamie is afraid that once Landon learns about her illness, he
will stop loving her -a real fear- and one that Landon makes her face
right away by doing the right thing. He doesn't mope around. He sees his
father (of course he doesn't understand that doctors have specialties)
to find help, then forces her to realize that he loves her no matter
what. For Jamie's part, once she sees that the love is still there, she
runs back into Landon's arms.
Are there any good love stories out
there these days? Ones where the people aren't stupid and take offence
at, say lies that were told in good faith and not because they were
trying to hurt the other person? I liked Failure to Launch, but it had
the typical problem of one person taking offence instead of discussing
it. Falling in love under false pretenses does not mean that the love
isn't real, as all movies seem to present to us. This movie is
different, and it comes across as fresh because of it.
13th, 2002 on DVD, for the second time
I still agree with everything that I wrote below, from the first time I saw
I think the actors were very strong, both at portraying Landon, while he was
being "popular", and when he was being changed, more responsible. He did a
great job at portraying emotion, curiosity, anger, resentment, and so on. For
Jamie's part, she knew that she was not popular, had no problem with it, and
never expected to fall in love. And when she does, completely by accident, she
starts to drown in her emotions, too. As she says, "I don't need a reason to
be angry with God". The emotional punch that this scene gives, as powerful as
it is, is still no match for the following one, in which Landon tells Jamie's
father that he's not going anywhere; he won't leave Jamie just because she has
leukemia. He loves her, and it shows how far he's come, how much Jamie has
When we saw this film in the theatre, there was not a dry eye in the place by
the end of it. At home, in our living room, tears once again erupted. It was a
natural reaction, because both characters made us care so deeply for them. It
was not caused by sad music or any manipulation. It was simply a situation
that we were forced to feel empathy for.
I liked this movie even more than I did the first time I saw it. Sure, there
were many situations where the awkward teenager came out, and seemed to weaken
the film a little. But those moments were short, and were more than made up
for by the emotions that this movie produced.
This is very much a character story. It definitely shows how far Landon has
traveled in growing up from the beginning to the end of the film. But others
show that they can be responsible, too. My favorite character aside from the
leads was Eric, Landon's best friend. He added some great comedy to the
beginning, and he doesn't take offence when Landon tells him that he's in love
with Jamie, and doesn't feel the need to be part of the popular group any
more. And his speech that he didn't understand, but now he does, after finding
out about Jamie's disease, was terrific.
It was really hard to believe that this was the same Mandy Moore that we saw
in Princess Diaries. She did a
terrific job in both, of course, but here, she's so serious, so withdrawn. I
was amazed. She brings an innocence to Jamie, who has accepted her fate, who
thinks she might be bad at kissing, and who has just the cutest face when
telling Landon that she's not seducible.
Of course, I still have to complain about the astronomy! Romantic as it might
seem, naming a star after somebody is still silly. But that is overshadowed by
the fact that they still leave all the lights on when observing, the comet
actually moves (and that is not an image of Hyakutake), and there is no way
they could see the whole comet through the field of view of that telescope.
Naked eye was the way to see that comet in full. Still, I liked the way she
had an astronomy demonstration for the science fair (when did that take
place?), and yes, a bigger telescope will yield more detail, not a more
"powerful" one. She got that right!
The rest of the DVD is not very special. There were no deleted scenes, no
behind-the-scenes specials. We got to see the music video for Mandy Moore's
"Cry", which was also uninspiring. And the trailer sure gives a lot of the
movie away, though thankfully it stays away from revealing Jamie's problem.
There are two audio commentaries. The first one is by the director, Mandy
Moore, and Shane West. They all sound very immature. Moore is very bubbly,
constantly saying "oh my god!" and such. It was fun and full of energy for a
little while, but then it became too much to handle. The second commentary is
by the original author of the book, Nicolas Sparks, and the screenwriter for
the film. How did they get those two in the same room! We didn't watch much of
it, but I was rather unimpressed by most of what we did see.
Still, it's nice to have the movie in widescreen, and there are still some
insights into the film on those commentaries. I was surprised to be very
impressed with the movie for the second time! It truly was a walk to remember.
February 5th, 2002 in the Theatre
This is a three-star movie masquerading as a four-star movie. Or is
it the other way around? Anyway, although the teen angle at the
beginning seemed a little weak, and the astronomy was pretty screwed up, I
loved the love story, and the actors brought the movie way up because of their
I am a sucker for a good love story. I always have been. Turn
one of the characters into a reclusive geek, throw some astronomy into the
mix, and I will have a hard time disliking the movie. Add to this the
way the film treats the characters with respect, break the cliché of the way
loses girl", and we have a winner.
I was always the geek who was picked on by the popular people at high
school. Maybe not picked on, but definitely talked about. I never
cared, though. I knew who I was, who I wanted to be, and it rarely
bothered me. I loved astronomy (which is always portrayed as a geek's
hobby), and I loved Star Wars -I would even wear my Han Solo vest to school
and keep it on all day. People talked, but I never cared what other
people thought of me. I had my own friends, and they were really
That's why I always loved movies like "Can't Buy Me Love" from
the 1980s. That's what gave this movie a good head start on me.
But there are lots of movies out there dealing with the geek who gets the
girl, and I wouldn't sit through them. One example is the current movie
Slackers, which I have no desire to see. And I was worried about the
beginning of the film, which showed how far Landon had to go. But it was
worth it. A weak beginning is easier to forgive than a weak
ending. This one started out weak, but grew stronger as it progressed,
becoming very strong by the end.
Jamie Sullivan is an outcast. Not because she's ugly or fat.
Not even because she is the Minister's daughter, sporting beliefs that are not
politically correct. She is very pretty, in fact beautiful. She is
shy, however, and has no desire to fit in, which is the one thing people think
they can't afford in high school. She has her faith in God, and she
keeps to her own hobbies, which tend to keep her isolated. She sings in
the church choir, tutors disabled children, and participates in the drama and
science activities offered at school. She has some friends, though we
don't explicitly meet them, and they are about as quiet as she is. They
don't make a mark on the school, except as gossip fodder and people at whom
the "upper class" looks down on.
Landon is the guy who everybody wants to be friends with. He is too
cool for a lot of people, and is happy to make smart remarks about others and
their appearances, Jamie's among them. But it seems that he makes his
friends go through an initiation, a jump off a factory scaffold into a pool of
water. Something goes horribly wrong, however, when the new
"friend" hits a pipe under water, and ends up in the hospital.
I suppose the victim didn't tell what happened, so nobody can prove it was
Landon's responsibility. As punishment for drinking on school property
however, the school principal makes Landon do janitorial stuff, tutor
disadvantaged kids, and take part in the school play.
All of this, of course, puts him in close proximity with Jamie, who
holds no resentment towards him, but is clearly aware of what kind of person
he is. Surprisingly, it is Jamie who takes the first step. She
notices that he is having trouble tutoring his student, and offers
advice. He ignores her. She drives him home when his lift doesn't
show up (he's still suffering from the accident at the beginning of the
citing "number 42" on her list of things to do in life:
"befriend somebody you don't like". She helps him practice his
lines for the play, but cuts off his time after he denounces her in front of
his friends. He follows her into a cemetery (clearly not comfortable
with the idea) as she sets up her telescope. Somehow, she has piqued his
interest, even though he doesn't quite realize it.
The moment he does realize it comes during the school play. He
forgets his lines after seeing her walk onto the stage, wearing an elegant
gown, with her hair down. He tells her she's beautiful, and at the very
end, kisses her. Nobody knows whether this is actually part of the
play. Her father worries, his ex-girlfriend is horrified. His best
friend is intrigued.
I liked his best friend. He was popular, and played the part of
"superior" well, but also came down to earth and was always there
for his friend, except when the two were falling in love, when he didn't
understand what was going on. By the end, he figures out what kind of
love is between Landon and Jamie.
As for the love story itself, it worked extremely well. She knows
what kind of person he is, and so does he. But he is changing, and as
much as she is afraid of it, she knows that he is changing. For the
better. He knocks out another friend after they distributed flyers with
Jamie's face and a sexy body on it. He arranges to have a star named
after her (yes, there is a company that will do that, but it is far from
official -only you and your small circle of friends will recognize the name as
genuine, because this company has no standing in the astronomical
world). And he brings two blankets to their observation night
(after asking "are your seducible?"), when they
stay out all night long, stargazing, and holding each other. Dinner and
dancing was also amazing.
The story really treats the characters with respect. This is why when
Jamie drops her bombshell, it really hurts. She had reasons for telling
Landon not to fall in love with her. There was a reason she was not
allowed to date. She has leukemia, and has stopped responding to
The actor does a really good job of acting angry with the world. The
character has just found true love, has just found peace, and he will lose it
if she dies. I suppose all of his former friends found out about her
illness, because they suddenly turn sappy and sensitive. His
ex-girlfriend becomes tender, his other friends help him with Jamie's
stuff. It's really nice to see, though probably a little
But he overcomes his grief, especially in seeing the way that Jamie doesn't
grieve. He fills her doorstep with flowers, and builds her a new, larger
telescope. He learns to dance, for her. He shows her how to be in
two places at once (straddling the state line), and gives her a press-on
tattoo, which were things on her to-do list. He even makes a to-do list
of his own!
Finally, when she is well enough to observe with her new telescope (without
turning off the porch lights, I might add, which would destroy any chance at
observing anything), in a moment long-awaited by the audience (myself
included), he asks her to marry him. For number one on her to-do list
was get married in the church where her parents got married. Besides,
it's true love!
She last the summer, and is then gone, like a shining comet, from his
I think there were only a few dry eyes in the theatre, but I am happy to
say that the film doesn't really manipulate the emotions as much as the
emotions are drawn out, because these two people are so well-developed.
As her father says, Landon was Jamie's miracle. I was worried that her
miracle (another thing on her list) would be recovery because of him, but I
was glad the movie didn't go that route. I knew as soon as he saw her
yearbook caption that he would be her miracle.
Joanne had of course read the book, and though some things are different,
she absolutely loved the movie. I thought the love story was masterfully
done. The beginning was weak, and the musical interludes featuring the
singer-turned-actress were a little obvious and long. They did feature
well into the story, however. Normally, I would give this type of movie
three stars, because that's what it deserves. But I loved the love story
so much that I had to bump it up. The actors were superb in bringing
their characters to life, giving them a depth many movies only wish for.
Even with most of the astronomy horribly botched, yes, I could watch this one again.