A Walk to Remember
2002, PG, 100 min. Directed by Adam Shankman. Starring Matt Lutz, Jonathan Parks Jordan, Paz De La Huerta, Al Thompson, Clayne Crawford, Lauren German, Daryl Hannah, Peter Coyote, Shane West, Mandy Moore.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Jan. 25, 2002
Based on a Nicholas Sparks' novel, A Walk to Remember starts out gloriously, with the title credits pounding out over the Breeders' “Cannonball” and its infectious opening riff that never fails to get the blood pumping. Who knew that would be the highlight to this wretched teen dramedy, which could very well be scientifically proven to stop blood flow to the brain? A Walk to Remember carts out a piddling, tired tale of mismatched young lovers: Jamie (Moore), the sweet daughter of a preacher man, and a “misunderstood” angerball named Landon Carter (West). He runs the cool crowd; she sits at the geek table. He lands in probation and has to do time in the school play (This is punishment? What happened to in-school suspension?); she coaches him in how to find his inner actor. He falls in love because she has a good heart and a nice voice; she sings -- because the plot is contrived in such a way to allow scenes for Mandy Moore to sing, because Mandy Moore happens to be a pop singer. (Think Britney Spears, only legitimately virginal.) They end up all gushy in love, which isn't giving anything away, because we've only reached the halfway point in the film. And that's when A Walk to Remember takes the giant leap from your run-of-the-mill mediocrity into an alternative universe of awfulness. Narrative logic is tossed out the window, as is structure, pacing, and any last scraps of serviceable dialogue. It's like the filmmakers suddenly hit the fast-forward button and the action begins skipping maniacally from one manhandling sob stop to the next. (You can almost see the checklist: “Cancer?” “Check!” “Moody, gloomy staring at the ocean and questioning God?” “Check!” “Bedside confessions?” “Check!” “Last-minute redemption?” “Check!”) It's all so ridiculously bad, it's impossible to keep from giggling -- sometimes guffawing -- at the giant sucking sound up on the screen. To Moore's credit, she surprisingly does not suck. Actually, she's bunny-rabbit cute, and acts circles around the rest of the cast, which happens to include decently regarded actors like Peter Coyote, who has all the appeal of room-temperature butterscotch pudding here, and Daryl Hannah, who looks like she's just come off an eight-year bender. Teen Beat heartthrob Shane West (ABC's Once and Again) is an atrocity, veering wildly from sulk to scowl to sneer throughout, and should not be allowed to make any more movies ever again. Nor should screenwriter Karen Janszen, at least not until she knows how to write characters who don't come off like idiots. Is that too much to ask? Probably. In the meantime, I'll settle for a fast forgetting of A Walk to Remember.