Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dear Channing, I mean Dear John

Friday night, rainy, cold. Very rainy. I had no clients. Lots of work to do, as always, but no clients and didn’t think I’d get any. When it rains in LA the city shuts down. It’s like a snow day in the Midwest.

I had a pass to see 'Dear John'. I like Amanda Seyfried from the ABBA movie, 'Mamma Mia' and I like her upcoming movie 'Letters to Juliet', which I saw a test screening a few months ago. And it is directed by Lasse Hallström, the director of ABBA the Movie (and several dozen ABBA videos). So I’m interested.

But no, Dear John is all about the boy. Channing Tatum. I’d read one review that said the movie was terrible, but that the director knew what he had, and showed Tatum either shirtless or in a t-shirt throughout the movie.

I'm in.

Oh, I am so cheap.

But knowing it is half the battle. Besides, I can quit any time.

So, it’s raining, it’s cold, it’s late Friday night, I get to the theatre in Glendale, and the ticket girl says, Oh, I’m sorry, that showing is sold out. I can get you into the 10:30 show.

Sold out? BBb-bbut it’s raining ? !

AND it’s a B movie chick flick!

I said, there isn’t one seat available?

She looked at her screen, and pondered, “yeah, you can likely find one seat, but it will probably be the worst seat in the theatre.

I looked at the marquee listing the 16 movies currently playing, I had seen all of the ones I was even remotely interested in, some of them several times over. So I said, ‘OK, give me the ticket and if I can’t find a seat I will come back and get a ticket to the later show.‘

So I went in, down the hall and rounded the corner into the theatre.

It was PACKED.

Packed with girls.

And when I say girls, I mean like maybe 16 years old. I don’t know. They all look so young. It’s hard to tell these days because young women dress a lot ‘older’ than they did when I was 16.

I found a seat, quite a decent seat, actually, (with a good view because everyone else in the theatre was under 5’ 2”) and settled in, prepared to see a horrible movie with some hopefully great man candy.

Which is pretty much exactly what it was. Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. So that says all you need to know. The two main characters are introduced in the first scene, they are attached to others, but those relationships are faltering. The attraction is instant. They get together against logic. Then they get separated (in this case Tatum is in the army or something and gets shipped off to Afghanistan or somewhere.) So they write letters back and forth until they can get back together.

My suspension of disbelief was strained when the screen showed Tatum writing in perfect script, these really intense and longing letters. But I decided to play along.

It doesn’t all go smoothly of course. There is lots of drama, lots of tears, lots of kissing, even a couple fist fights.

OK, more importantly, Tatum is indeed shirtless several times in the film. The first time we see him, at the beach (always a good idea), surf board in hand. The girls in the audience screamed. Literally.

Seyfried accidentally drops her purse off the dock, and Tatum dives into the ocean, down to the bottom, and rescues her handbag. He comes back up the beach, his perfect body (trim but not overly worked out so still accessible - take a lesson, Taylor Lautner) dripping wet, his shorts sliding down, barely hanging on his perfect hips.

OK, to me, already worth the price of admission.

And by that I mean the hassle, not the actual dollar amount.

Then when Tatum and Seyfried first kiss, the girls in the theatre swooned. Literally. Later, when the camera dollies in in anticipation of their first kiss, the girl beside me had her hands on her face and was squirming in her seat and moaning. I’m not kidding. I was looking at her out of the corner of her eye, not wanting to disturb the subject, as she was often more animated than the actual movie.

Not to mention, to me, a sociological profundity.

At one point, something bad happens and the lovers are separated. I looked over and she was crying. Later on they break up. She was sobbing, and muttering under her breath.

I was watching her, and wondering if she’d seriously ever seen a movie before. Aside from the Twilight series, obviously.

I mean, every movie cliché in the book was unfolding on the screen exactly as you would anticipate. But this girl, and seemingly every other girl in the theatre, was on an emotional roller coaster. I’m sure if she were of legal drinking age, there would be cosmopolitans around the table later with her three best friends.

I must admit the movie looked fabulous, and was directed in accordance with romantic drama protocol, and the story unfolded exactly as any Film 101 student could predict from watching the trailer. I admired the director’s restraint with the ending, and not drawing it out. I mean, right from the opening five minutes you can tell how it’s going to pan out. Even from the movie poster itself you can tell how the movie is going to end. So when it finally gets to that point, Hallström wisely felt it needed no explanation, and the ending is one brief, almost teaser scene with no dialogue. Stunning lighting, but not a word. To me, it said all you need to know.

But, as the credits started to roll, the girl beside me sat up and said, quite loudly, That’s IT? That’s the end?

She actually seemed quite upset.

But possibly, in retrospect, not at how the movie ended but that it had to end at all. And unlike the Twilight series, there is no blatantly obvious sequel in the pipeline. Although now that it beat Avatar last weekend at the box office, there may well be a sequel.

Because that girl sitting beside me in the theatre on a cold, rainy Friday night in Glendale, and from my viewpoint, most of the similarly aged and similarly gendered viewers quite enjoyed the movie.

As did I, but for entirely different reasons.

Los Angeles
©2010 RocketManLA.com

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