Walk To Remember, A
Based on the bestseller by Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember focuses on a reckless high school teenager who falls for the daughter of the town's Baptist minister.
A group of high school seniors put a boy who is eager to become part of their clique through a cruel initiation prank that involves jumping off some sort of high scaffolding into a cloudy pool at a local cement factory. When one of them, Landon (Shane West), gets caught, the principal decides Landon needs to hang with a different crowd and assigns him to tutor kids on the weekend and take part in the drama club's spring play. Surprise-the plan works! In over his head with the play, Landon seeks help from Jamie (Mandy Moore), a dowdy bible-thumper who apparently only owns one ratty cardigan. Jamie, however, is not your run-of-the-mill unpopular girl. Rather than being introverted and weird, she is smart, witty and confident-in fact, that grubby sweater of hers seems to be the only thing branding her as an outcast. The two grow closer and Landon eventually sees her inner beauty, forgoing his own A-list status to be with her. But Landon learns that Jamie has been keeping a secret from him that inevitably blocks their path to happiness.
Moore, the underdog of the teen pop stars, dyes her hair brown and dulls herself down for the role of Jamie, a simple girl that loves to gaze at the stars in her spare time. She did a great job transforming herself into her character but in the process extinguished most of what makes her sparkle on screen. Mind you, the script might be to blame for creating a character so unbelievably mundane and one-dimensional. Under all of Jamie's goodness and perfection is, well, nothing. West does a great job portraying his character transformation. Even while Landon runs with the bad crowd, West conveys a sense of humility in the character. Peter Coyote plays Reverend Sullivan, Jamie's over-protective father, without being too overbearing, which is refreshing. An almost unrecognizable and weathered Daryl Hannah has a small but convincing enough role as Landon's mother. Maybe it was her now-brunette hair, but I didn't realize it was Hannah until I saw the credits.
In A Walk to Remember, director Adam Shankman steered away from being overly sentimental. The relationship that develops between the teens is actually very sweet and, interestingly enough, the film ends up being more about Landon's transformation than about Jamie's faith. While the film is not as flaky as the rash of recent teen movies, it still manages to fall into the same clichés. Though the story is very-dare I say-poignant, characters like Jamie's, in trying to be different, have become a stereotype: The plain Jane whose personality and convictions win over the popular guy. Remember Andie (Molly Ringwald) in Pretty in Pink? Or more recently, Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) in She's All That? And though Moore has a beautiful, melodic voice, her singing scenes are too drawn out. We are not just treated to her crooning a chorus or two of a song during a church scene, but the songs in their entirety. Even Mariah Carey spared us that much in Glitter.
A Walk to Remember is a sweet teen drama with a strong message. It will definitely appeal to younger teens and Mandy Moore fans alike, but skip it if you are old enough to already understand the moral of the story.