I really hate movies based on Nicholas Sparks books. I’m just not into the whole weepy-drama romances, but obviously, there’s a big market for them because they keep getting made. Some of the others include ‘A Walk to Remember,’ ‘The Notebook,’ ‘Nights in Rodanthe,’ and ‘Dear John.’ Coming up in the next couple of years are ‘The Lucky One’ and ‘True Believer.’
You pretty much know what you’re getting – drama, romance, tragedy, tears, rinse, repeat. Oh, and rest assured that I cried during ‘The Last Song.’ Even though I knew what was coming, I still cried plenty – and it doesn’t take much for me to cry in movies. I can find something to cry about even in a comedy. But let’s move on and talk about the movie.
It stars Miley Cyrus, in her first dramatic role, as a gifted but troubled pianist named Ronnie who’s just graduated from high school and is sent with her brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman) to stay with their dad Steve (Greg Kinnear) for the summer. They’ve been living with their mom Kim (Kelly Preston) in New York, but when Kim and Steve split up, he moved back to the southern beach town where he grew up.
Ronnie is sullen and moody, and blames all of her troubles on the fact that her parents split up. But she soon meets a boy named Will (Liam Hemsworth) who brightens up her life. She also becomes obsessed with protecting a nest of turtle eggs on the beach from the raccoons who’d like to devour them. Ronnie is determined to make sure those eggs survive until the turtles hatch and crawl to the ocean.
There’s also a tragedy, in that a major character dies (cue the tears), and Ronnie’s perspective changes. She realizes that the most important thing in life is spending time with the people you love. It also makes her re-think the idea of going to Julliard, where she’s been accepted but has vowed not to go. She and her dad are both gifted pianists, which boosts the poignancy factor of attending Julliard to study music.
Miley Cyrus does an ok job with this movie, but I didn’t really buy her as a sullen teenager, maybe because she’s played just the opposite in all of her roles thus far, including her perky ‘Hannah Montana’ character on the Disney Channel. Maybe a couple more dramatic roles will help me wrap my head around her as a dramatic actress. She has good chemistry with Hemsworth, which isn’t surprising, since they’re a couple in real life, as well.
Greg Kinnear is one of my favorite actors; the way he interacts with other characters makes it seem like he’s playing a real person, not a character on a movie screen. Kelly Preston seems to play “the mom” in every movie these days, so it’s sort of predictable that she would in this movie, too. The whole movie is fairly predictable.
The stand-out performance is Bobby Coleman, who plays Ronnie’s little brother Jonah. He manages to lighten up an otherwise dramatic film, and bring a bit of much-needed humor to the storyline.
If you love Nicholas Sparks movies, then you’ll probably love this one, although it’s probably too intense and dramatic for tween girls used to seeing Cyrus in her Hannah Montana persona. It’s rated PG, but could have easily been rated PG-13 for thematic material.
Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures