Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Tacky, but Inspirational
For many, Nicolas Sparks creates a feeling of uneasiness among men. His stories are typically found alongside an abundance of predictable behavior, unrealistic relationships, and paint an unrealistic image of “the perfect male”, convenient for his female target audience to drool over. However, there are some people in this world that would give anything a chance once, and you may be surprised to know that even Nicolas Sparks can surprise you. Is A Walk to Remember different from his other works? Well it is and it isn’t. Obviously, it’s a romance, but it does have some unpredictable elements involved, which is pretty impressive for ol’ Sparks. For me, his romantic formula actually worked for this film.
Landon Carter (Shane West) is your typical troublemaker up to no good, but from the start, you can tell that there’s something different about him. It’s not that he’s really good; it’s just that he’s not completely lost to the world of darkness…yet. On the other side of the spectrum is Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), a Christian’s Christian who volunteers, clearly, for everything in town. When Landon gets caught trespassing on private property, he is forced by the school to do work around the community: volunteer to tutor at the junior high school and participate in the spring play. Coincidentally, Jamie does both for fun, and Landon asks Jamie to help him remember his lines for the play, and she agrees as long as he promises not to fall in love with her. However, since this is a Sparks story, sparks fly, transforming Landon’s character from the inside out.
This is one of the only secular movies that I know that does not put down Christianity. Sure, there are plenty of times throughout the movie that Jamie is made fun of for her beliefs, but the movie presents it in a way that says that is a bad thing. In fact, it is her beliefs that present her as an inspirational person, both for Landon and for the viewers taking in the message of the film. These two actors both exude strong personalities, both for separate reasons. Landon had the courage to step out of his zone of comfort to try being good, and Jamie was one of the strongest people in the world…but I cannot say why, because the movie really did have an element that was unpredictable.
This is one of two Nicolas Sparks films that I have found to be unpredictable, along with Safe Haven. I didn’t rate Safe Haven incredibly high, because even now I find the characters to be forgettable, not sustaining enough oomph to remember. Now A Walk to Remember came out 11 years ago, and I can remember almost everything about the film, including the characters. It’s an opposite attracts story with the best characters, it’s a coming-of-age film mixed with a romance. Is it sappy? Yeah, so what, so is life. Part of what makes everyone make fun of sappy love stories is being remarkably unrealistic. While there were over-the-top scenarios in this film, there was just a part of the movie that came off as believable anyways.
It had great acting, the music was memorable, you cared about the characters, and the story starts off typical but moves into something completely different. It was an inspirational movie that shows us that no matter how bad we think we are, or how bad society thinks we are, there is always hope for us to be a better human being, and to have courage to accept change as a positive.
Given, I typically rate Nicolas Sparks films higher than normal critics would, but I usually can understand where they are coming from. For A Walk to Remember, it has received some serious negativity from the critics table, and while I can understand some parts, I respectfully think the general consensus should be at least a little higher. It’s not that bad of a movie, really.