I scrunched down in my chair, and Mrs. Film Geek perked up a bit in hers, when Channing Tatum walked out of the surf topless. My confidence went south, along with my expectations for the flick.
"Hang tight," she said. "I know a few things about this movie. You'll like it, I promise."
I sucked in my gut, set the popcorn aside and relaxed. Mrs. Film Geek knows me really well. If she thinks I'll like it, I probably will.
And I did.
I liked Dear John for several reasons, but mostly because it isn't the romance movie the audience expects. Sure, the relationship between military tough-guy John and college student Savannah is a major part of the movie. But Dear John moves beyond that, and becomes a story that illustrates the importance of pushing through difficult, awkward situations in order to connect with others in a substantial manner. This is shown most effectively in the relationship between John and his father, a man who has Asperger's Disorder and is challenged by social relationships.
The flick hit close to home.
John's father, played masterfully by Richard Jenkins, reminded me a great deal of my own dad. Both are personally isolated and distant, interested but unsure how to interact on a highly emotional level. The struggle John has understanding his father's inability to connect emotionally level mirrors my own frustration with desiring a closer relationship with my dad, but always seeming to fall short of that goal.
As a romance flick, Dear John is a bit cliched and even overly sentimental. As a movie about working through the baggage of family dynamics, the movie was pretty darned good.