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A Walk to Remember

Starring Mandy Moore and Shane West; Darryl Hannah and Peter Coyote
Screenplay by Karen Janszen
Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks
Directed by Adam Shankman

IN SHORT: A movie to forget. [Rated PG for thematic elements, language and some sensual material.]

It has always been our policy never to compare to Source Material, but that doesn't stop us from quoting numerous ladies in our audience who had read the original novel, all of whom had no problem calling out at the screen (at sonic levels ranging from about four to seven on a scale of ten) "This is terrible! Get the book! The book was so much better!"

Then again, we're in New York City where the concept of "wholesome" is, as perceived by the other fifty states, a foreign one. A Walk To Remember is far beyond wholesome, miles beyond white bread. It sits squarely in the Land of Nod, somewhere between bland and blander, with an endgame that could make Ali McGraw shudder. This setting is a town called Beaufort, in North Carolina and in its midst is the bad boy Landon Carter (Shane West), son of Cynthia (Darryl Hannah) and a doctor father who abandoned the family for some blonde. We know Landon is bad because he drinks beer, doesn't tuck in his T-Shirt and gets willing in-crowd wannabees to jump off a bridge into a shallow lake.

Said wannabees usually don't whack their heads on an underwater pipe, but that's what happens here and as punishment, to his unending shame, Landon is sentenced . . . to star in the Senior play opposite the Bible totin' plain jane Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), daughter of the town's Reverend (Peter Coyote). Jamie is snubbed as square by that crowd, but she's steadfast and resolute in her faith and fortitude and pretty soon Landon is thinking that maybe it would be a good thing to, uh, tuck in that Tee.

With all the chops of an After School Special, A Walk To Remember is a truly painful sit. It fails on so many other grounds that, were you thinking of seeing the movie just for Ms. Moore's singing, you'd be better off spending for the soundtrack. Moore's lip synch skills are video fine but if your ears are as finely tuned as ours, you'll hear studio production on some vocals supposedly being sung in the big outdoors, where slap echo shouldn't occur. Moore and West look good in the same picture, but neither has extensive acting skills, which is why many of their scenes are silent, overwhelmed by an ongoing and almost unstoppable run of songs. To be fair, Moore is much better at the craft than Mariah Carrey was in Glitter.

Finally, lest anyone misinterpret our use of the phrase "faith and fortitude" above let us speak plainly to the producers and directors of this bomb. Faith is good. Belief is good. If you're going to prominently feature the face of a savior in your picture and push hard for the meaning of faith as a bedrock to a way of life, it's perfectly OK to call him by name ("Jesus," not "Gee--"). If your story is of how her resoluteness brings our young thug in training to the good side, fine. What is on screen would have worked well if the story were still set in the 1957 time frame of the Source book. In present day, it is nothing to call home about.

A Walk To Remember offers up this trivia bit which you should remember: you can say a four letter synonym for "number two" five times and still manage to hold a PG rating! Six and you're up to PG-13 and that would never go down well in North Carolina (which is a lovely state).

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to A Walk To Remember, he would have paid . . .


In our theater alone, as if to emphasize the family nature of this film, the projectionist didn't turn the house lights off for a good ten minutes after the film's start. No kidlets making out in this movie house, no sirree bob!

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