A Walk to Remember (2002)
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Review Date: January 23, 2002
Director: Adam Shankman
Writer: Karen Janszen
Producers: Denise DiNovi, Hunt Lowry
Mandy Moore
Shane West
Peter Coyote
A hip popular dude in high school gets in trouble and must perform certain unwanted tasks, during which time he meets the school's most bible-thumping virgin-esque sweetheart who's apparently uncool because she wears the same sweater all of the time. Anyway, you'll never guess what happens next! That's right, he actually starts to see some of the errors of his ways and begins to fall for the charming lollipop. And then...oh God..."it" happens! Ugh.
Before I get into my review of this film, I just want to make sure that it's understood that I think the ending of this movie blows. I repeat...the way that things are wrapped here, sucks on ice (my rating automatically dropped by a point when I saw it coming). Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let's get to the rest of it. This is the kind of movie that will elicit two types of reactions from a crowd. You will either a) wretch at the corny dialogue, laugh at the predictable way of the story, cry in laughter as the teens get into their "real" feelings and stand up, turn to the right and walk straight out of the theater as soon as you figure out the crappy denouement to come. At least half a dozen people walked out of my screening at that very point. Or b) you "get into" the cheesy dialogue, you feel comfortable in the obviousness of the plotline, you cry audibly when the characters on screen discuss their "real" feelings for one another and you cry even more when you figure out how the film must inevitably conclude. Sigh. Me? Well, I guess I was sort of in the middle (oops, did I mention that you could be in the middle also...?) You see, I actually enjoyed the two performances given here by the leads. Mandy Moore, who I knew dick about before the film (I stopped watching TV and listening to mainstream radio years ago), impressed me with her ultimate super-virgin performance, and sold me on every bit of wholesome goodness that she was peddling (she's also got a great ass!!!). Sorry, I just had to. Her character also showed a lot of spunk for a "nerd", which I appreciated.

Her counterpart, Shane West, was even stronger and ended up being more the core of the film, than anyone else. His transformation was believable and I dug how it was handled (cute chemistry between the two as well). Before the film, my friend had told me that the movie's trailer reminded him of HERE ON EARTH, in that it didn't seem to go for the "typical" teen gross-out shtick, the loud parties and the "we gotta get laid, dude" vibe. And it doesn't. It's very much about faith, the ol' Christian goodness and as schmaltzy as it was, it really did seem to have a sincere heart underneath it all. But like I said earlier, you will either think this puppy stinks to high heaven and laugh at every turn (when you're supposed to be crying) or groove into its TV movie of the week feel and cry like a baby. Basically, it's not for cynical people. And even those who aren't cynical, should beware of the extreme sugar ready to be poured down their respective throats. And the ending...well, like I said before...it blows like nobody's business and I only wish filmmakers would stop taking this cheap route to "prove" someone's love. Enough already! So see it if you like schmaltzy predictable teen love flicks with 5-minute music videos worked in by their leading singer/actress, and skip it if you've already seen Mandy Moore nude (just kidding), have enough misery in your own life and don't appreciate really bad endings that ruin pretty much everything that came before it. In other words, THE PRINCESS DIARIES fans should line up for this one!

PS: It's actually pretty ironic that this film utilizes an African-American best friend character as the "comic relief", which is exactly what NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE, the spoof on teen flicks, made fun of just this past summer. "I'm just supposed to stand here and say stuff like "dang!" and "that is whack!"
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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