24 BANKS ISLAND – with a French infusion By Charles Cole
Screen Gems 2010 Directed by Lasse Hallström
My father and I always joke when we see a terrible film, that at least it is not as bad as Sahara, the 1983 movie, which was essentially a vehicle for viewers to watch the stunning looks of a young Brooke Shields. Set early in the 20th Century, I remember my father lamenting that he could tell the cars were four-wheel drives (which in those days were certainly not in common use) and in one scene, he recalled, a truck mounted camera went by in the background. Yes it was truly awful, but compared to Dear John, it was a stunning masterpiece.
Dear John is possibly the worst film ever made and I do not say that lightly. I would have stopped watching it, but I thought, no I will finish it and then I can review it and you can avoid the same torture that I endured.
John is in the Special Forces and while on leave, he meets and falls in love with Savannah. She has, of course, a bunch of male admirers who are given a taste of what makes Special Forces so special, when one of them speaks out of turn. In no time flat the whole team is left writhing on the ground as the chosen one stalks off. I mean honestly, why would a woman find this attractive? After a bit of out of focus canoodling with requisite cheesy music playing, one is left to presume that they indulge off camera in what my father calls, ‘unspeakable delights’ and fall in love. He soon returns to the war zone and they keep in touch in the good old-fashioned way, by writing letters.
As always with bad movies, sequences with saccharine music overlaying them attempt to tie together the painful dialogue. Channing Tatum as John Tyree has only one expression, whether he is partaking in unspeakable delights or getting shot. At least he has a good, well-shaven body.
Amanda Seyfried looks at home on the beach, but she too is unbelievable and her hair is so beautifully coiffed, it is unrealistic. That’s why I like British films, because people look normal and don’t look like they have spent two hours in hair and makeup.
In an attempt to provide a storyline, and indeed to justify the title, enter stage left a solo parent father who is trying to bring up an autistic boy. In the absence of the heroine’s father, he has taken on the burden of making sure that she is not soiled by contact with an unsuitable suitor and advises our hero that should he fail to treat her with due respect, he will break every bone in his body. Leaving aside the Special Forces factor, this seems unlikely as he is suffering from incurable cancer. Meanwhile, inspired by the events of 9/11, our hero signs on for another tour of duty.
Finally, he gets an opportunity to change his expression. But alas, even the Dear John letter informing him his love has become engaged to another (father of autistic boy), it is not enough to move his face. His expression does not change, despite being shot several times as he seeks to forget.
The film feels like it will never end and this is not helped by the fact that nearly two decades pass in the movie and no one ages and our heroine’s hair remains coiffed to within an inch of its life.
Finally, thank goodness, our hero and heroine embrace prior to embarking on a lifetime of unspeakable delights together.
We watched it on Sky and my dad said it was remarkable that because it fitted so seamlessly with the advertisements, it was hard to tell whether you were watching the movie or them. Ugh. No stars from me.