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Early Review: A Walk to Remember

01.18.2002

A long-time JoBlo scooper, Hank Scorpio, has been nice enough to relate us his thoughts on the upcoming Mandy Moore flick entitled A WALK TO REMEMBER (opens January 25). Take it away, buddy!

"I saw a free preview of the new teen romance A Walk to Remember starring Shane West (Get Over It) and teenage pop singer Mandy Moore (The Princess Diaries) on Thursday night.  This review will be filled with ** LOTS OF SPOILERS** so please read at your own risk if you are interested in seeing this movie.  Also, I don't remember the characters' names so I'll just be referring to the actors directly.

A Walk to Remember is based on a novel that I will never read.  Shane West's character is a rebel without a cause-type high school student who purses his lips a lot and likes to wear his gold chain over his shirt.  He nearly gets a friend killed at the start of the movie on a dare and is sentenced to do community service, where he meets Mandy Moore, the daughter of the local pastor.  Moore on the surface could be The Simpsons' Ned Flanders' long-lost daughter, but she possesses a sublime self-confidence despite being the daily butt of her peers' cruel remarks.  Moore sees something in West and tries to befriend him.  West spurns her at first and joins his "cool" friends in mocking the dowdy Moore.  The two end up performing in a play set during Prohibition together and the unmotivated West comes to realize that he's on the road to embarrassing himself.  When help from his best friend, Token Black Guy (a character practically stolen from Not Another Teen Movie), proves insufficient, he persuades Moore to help him run lines.  Moore agrees on the condition that West cannot fall in love with her.  Well, of course he does. The play is a smash hit and in it, Moore, in costume as a glamorous nightclub singer, is so positively radiant, West sees her as the gorgeous knockout she truly is and falls in love with her, actually changing the play and kissing her onstage, much to the dismay of her father and his friends.  The newly-lovestruck West then does everything he can to win Moore over and succeeds.  They share many sweet moments as they fall deeper in love.  And then comes the big swerve:  Moore has leukemia and is dying.  When West learns this, he does everything he can to make Moore's dreams come true, ultimately redeeming himself by earning Moore's love.

That was the short version of the story. There was also the father who wants to be in West's life, the friends West spurns as he falls for Moore who humiliate her in front of the school, West's proving to Moore's father that his intentions towards his daughter are noble and how they ultimately befriend each other, West's supportive mother (Daryl Hannah, whose face looked like it was melting), a book Moore's dead mother gave her, and Moore's list of all the things she wants to do before she dies - every single one of which West somehow provides her.  There's also a wedding, but Moore's funeral is kept offscreen.  The movie has a huge amount of plot and takes its sweet time, ultimately resolving every single little plot thread and tying all loose ends in a nice big bow.  At nearly two hours, I felt the movie was too long and some sequences could have been tightened or cut entirely, which would have greatly improved the pace of the film. 

At its core, A Walk to Remember is very much like Titanic. Two young people who are opposites meet and experience a perfect love before one of them tragically dies. The film also contains a huge amount of Christian overtones, none of which I had a particular problem with.  Moore's character is someone who has a great faith in God and there is a great deal of dialogue regarding faith from Moore and her pastor father. Despite West's character's behavior at the start of the movie, both Moore and West are just about the two most perfect, angelic human beings on Earth by the time the credits roll. 

If it sounds like I'm complaining a great deal, it's because I felt the problems with the film took too much away from its strength, which was how West and Moore's characters fell in love. Your friend Hank Scorpio has to admit he's a sucker for a love story.  Much of the second act was pretty terrific as West and Moore fell more deeply in love with each other.  Mandy Moore's performance was better than expected. She brought the sweetness and inner light her role required.  As far as the movie was concerned, she was the sweetest, most desirable girl on Earth and Moore proved equal to the role.  West's early scenes were rocky and unconvincing, but after he falls for Moore, he was up to the challenge of his character's transformation. I liked the sincere relentlessness with which West pursued MooreThere were sweet and heart-tugging moments between the two and it was during those moments A Walk to Remember was clicking. 

The problem was that nearly every good moment was followed by a very bad moment.  There are some bad lines, just plain bad scenes, thinly sketched supporting characters, and the occasional ludicrous moment.  The use of songs throughout the movie were often distracting and out of place.  And as I mentioned earlier, there was too much plot and all of it was neatly resolved at the end.  The characters were the victims of a predictable, hackneyed, paint-by-numbers plot.  It's a shame because the two leads did very good work. 

**1/2 for A Walk to Remember.

Source: JoBlo.com

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