as how it's based on a weepy Nicholas Sparks novel, it's not
surprising that this teen romantic drama is an almost unbearably
weepy film. It's hard to imagine anyone besides 12-year-old
girls falling for it, but I guess you never know. Landon (West)
is the big man on campus at his North Carolina high school--tough
and brooding, magnetic and intelligent. His mother (Hannah)
worries that he's squandering his future when he's sentenced
to community service for a dangerous stunt. While helping
the needy kids he's forced to get to know the school's virginal
goody-goody Jamie (Moore), daughter of the town's stern preacher
(Coyote). Not only does Landon discover that he actually likes
being a good guy for a change, but he also falls for the girl,
who he never noticed was so stunningly beautiful, both inside
and out. Aw!
There's more of course, and as you watch the film there are
little hints from the very beginning as to where it's going.
And you can't quite believe that it actually goes there. The
predictable, obvious plot is so swampy and melodramatic that
it feels like a 'Very Special Episode' of Dawson's Creek ...
without the edge. Shankman (The Wedding Singer) was probably
not the right choice to direct it either, as he wallows in
the schmaltz, never ever undercutting it with badly needed
humour. He lurches from genuinely touching emotions to unbelievable
lapses in logic, all underscored with a far-too indulgent
collection of pop tunes (Moore even listens to herself on
the radio at one point!). The cast is very good, especially
West, who actually makes his character authentic within the
constrains of the weepy teen movie genre; and there's another
startlingly unselfconscious turn from Hannah. But it's all
so corny and earnest that it hurts!