Landon Carter is just your typical teenage rebel. When he gets in trouble for a prank gone awry, he is forced to join the school play with Jamie Sullivan. She’s a good girl and Landon would NEVER fall in love with her. So can he fall in love with her and overcome the secret reason why he shouldn’t fall in love with her before it’s too late? Find out in… A Walk to Remember.
How?! Landon Carter is a teenybopper rapscallion who, along with his scallywag friends, gets in trouble for the literal definition of peer pressure… like… he gets a dude to jump off a bridge by pretending like he’s going to do it too. Pretty on the nose. Anyway, the school is like “you rascal, you now have to volunteer teach and participate in the school play,” and Landon is like, “pffft, whatever. Definitely won’t fall in love with a total nerd.” But then he sees Jamie Sullivan and she’s a total nerd but also… intriguing. But still, definitely NOT falling in love with her. However, realizing that he’s probably going to totally bomb the play he asks Jamie to help him out. Through this process they strike up a friendship and they totally own the play, but afterwards go their separate ways. That is until Landon’s so-called friends play a prank on her and he’s like “yo, not cool and also she’s my girlfriend and I love her.” The audience is confused but thrilled as we get to watch young love blossom over fancy dinner dates and dancing. But Jamie is always on guard and we soon find out why. She’s dying from cancer and the audience rends their clothes in despair. But Landon isn’t ready to give up yet. He still totally is in love and they keep on dating and making her dreams come true in the short time they have. Realizing the profound change in his life he decides that despite her imminent death he wants to marry Jamie and despite the misgivings of their parents they do and boy oh boy, let me tell you, it’s… a walk… to remember. In fact, I’m remembering it right now and it’s beautiful. We then find out that after her death the once wayward Landon is now studying to become a doctor and likely cures cancer in the future. THE END. Big Question: Would the story have been less profound if they didn’t get married? Just wondering how much the marriage itself factors into the story.
Why?! Love… oh, you probably want me to say more. Well, I think Jamie always realized that Landon was really nice (and very handsome *wolf whistle*), but through a combination of peer pressure and difficulties with his parent’s divorce was straying from the straight and narrow. So I think she kinda knew that if they hung out that side would come out and they would fall in love. So still, love all the way.
Who?! Mandy Moore is the star and at the time was a pretty big pop star. Not like Britney, bitch. But like a bench player on the all-pop star team. There were also a couple “In memory of” credits at the end of the film. These went to Nicholas Sparks’ sister, who was the inspiration for the book, and Jimmy Everest, who was a child who died of bone cancer and whose memorial helped establish the University of Oklahoma’s pediatric cancer center.
What?! A bunch of places mentioned how crazy the product placement in this film was and I was like “what?” but then I was reminded that there is pretty much a full-blown commercial for the Star Registry in the middle of the film (you can name your own star!). And this came just a mere three years after they were forced to stop claiming that you were buying the official naming of a star… so it’s officially unofficial. That is pretty good.
Where?! I mean… it’s Nicholas Sparks. Where else but North Carolina. But also like most of his books it’s not necessary, just made very clear. So like a B or B+. Obviously this film could also have taken place on Martha’s Vineyard… starring me. Obviously. Also, interestingly this film features a scene with a “Welcome to Virginia” highway sign. Add that to the list.
When?! Now if you thought the product placement was great for this film, wait until you get a load of the temporal setting. Eventually the film revolves around Jamie having all of her dreams come true thanks to Landon. This includes seeing a once-in-a-lifetime comet. What comet? Well she specifically mentions it’s the Comet Hyakutake… which was visible in Spring 1996. Interestingly she wouldn’t have needed a telescope to see that comet… it was very bright and visible to the naked eye. But yeah, I’m gonna give that an A. Somehow the exact time of the film is relevant to the plot.
The film is fine, but eventually gets quite weird. It’s all very saccharine, so if you’re into high schoolers falling deeply, madly and/or truly in love and marrying despite imminent death from cancer then this will do nicely. If you aren’t looking for that then it’s a tough watch. The big critique is how much time they spend on the front half of the film (sometimes even on trivial things) only to put the pedal to the metal as Landon goes from scoffing at Jamie in the hallway, to holding her head in his hands and asking “baby, are you all right?” in what feels like five second. It’s pretty jarring, but still less jarring than them getting married just moments later. The book does a better job with the pacing and as a result is probably more successful. But still… it’s OK. We all need a little sweetness every once in a while. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Oh man, that walk. You know what? That was a walk that I’m going to remember, that’s how good that walk was. Let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – This was a long time coming. We almost audibled to Sex in the City 2, but then it just felt right. It had been so long since we had done a Nicholas Sparks film, and this is the true OG Nicholas Sparks film. I was a bit surprised to learn that the leading man is also somewhat musically inclined. I was not surprised after watching it to learn they didn’t let him sing in the film. What are my expectations? A whole lotta schlock. What I want is Midnight Sun. Someone has to be a terrible actor, and I want to tear up and think “Peter Coyote, you done right, don’t you feel bad.” If I don’t get that I’ll be disappointed.
The Good – I thought Mandy Moore did a decent job. If I knew nothing about her I wouldn’t have thought it was a singer-turned-actor, she held her own amongst the rest of the young cast. The film is mostly just syrupy sweetness, which often is enough to get me through a teen drama. The first hour is quite good in that regard. We get to learn who Landon is, see him change and start dating Jamie, ah young love. Then they gut-punch you, but that isn’t always a bad thing either.
The Bad – I did not like the weird pacing they chose for the adaptation. The relationship is building for about an hour, and then in order to connect the dots to the ending they kind of just have to fast forward months into the relationship. It makes the whole flow of the end of the film seem off. I don’t want to get into it too much, but having the two 18 year old lead characters get married at the end is very old fashioned. It dates the movie to a different time in America. And the play-within-a-movie was objectively awful and everyone should feel bad about that storyline.
The BMT – Of course, all Nicholas Sparks novels are going to inevitably result in BMT glory. This had to be done, so from that perspective it is obviously BMT. The issue is probably that this is one of the better Sparks films in the end. Like, you couldn’t even throw us one ghost wife? Not even a single one? That’ll ultimately sink it in my estimation. Did it meet my expectations? Nope. Neither of the leads were amusingly terrible at acting. They were both serviceable, and their relationship was earned and very sweet. And then, I felt nothing for Peter Coyote when his terminally ill daughter died. Sorry. It is probably his dour preacher demeanor that turned me off, whereas Rob Riggle in Midnight Sun was a constant amusing delight. So take some notes Sparks, your father figures should have an irreverent sense of humor. Just a tip.
Roast-radamus – There isn’t a Planchet, but there is a frenemy with a ‘tude named Dean. I mean, we don’t award things for that, but still, it is important to consider awards for sheer ‘tudeness. I’ll definitely allow for Setting as a Character (Where?) for North Carolina, they even filmed on the Dawson’s Creek set. And lob over an easy Worst Twist (How?) for the now-classic tragic-death-of-the-leading-lady-for-romance. I think this has a chance for a Good nomination at the end of the year, but it is highly dependant on how many films we think could get that designation.
StreetCreditReport.com – Not surprisingly this film got very little play in 2002. It might have just been floating in that fine-but-too-sweet area such that it really wasn’t the worst. Or 2002 was a particularly “good” year for bad movies. Whatever the case, the cred mostly comes from Sparks anyways who managed to mostly tarnish his reputation as a writer for a whole group of people who would never be interested in his books by releasing terrible adaptations for a decade. That’s it though, it is all Sparks.
You Just Got Schooled – Jamie (me, not Sullivan) jumping in because, guess what? I totally read this book. Don’t worry, it’s pretty short. Anyway, it’s a very sweet book, which focuses much more on the spiritual and religious aspects of Jamie’s (and eventually Landon’s) life. It also takes place in the 50’s and is told from Landon’s point of view decades later. Both these aspects make the pacing of their relationship and their eventual marriage much more logical. There is also a lot more discussion about their choices in the book, so the film feels like it hits hyperspeed at a certain point as they jump from not dating at all to marriage in a relatively short time frame. Besides that though I think it’s a pleasant enough adaptation of a pleasant enough book. Do I recommend it? No… why would you read this?