CHANNING TATUM reportedly took the roles of Duke in G.I. Joe and the lead in Dear John because he felt his turn as a tortured veteran in Stop-Loss was unrepresentative of our soldiers serving overseas. If that's true, and Tatum's soldier in Dear John is more accurate, then... man, soldiers are tedious.
Dear John is a cut of grade-A, red-state values porn: When Tatum and his 1,000-yard stare return home to South Carolina, he meets Amanda Seyfried, a doe-eyed nurturer who is completely free of sin and compelling character traits. (When Tatum asks her if she has any faults, Seyfried admits that she curses at people in her head. How humanizing!) These two boring people throw themselves into a passionately milquetoast courtship ("I want to meet your dad—tonight!" Seyfried coos on their second date) before Tatum—a Green Beret—has to leave for a year to finish up his military service. No problem, right? Tatum and Seyfried may have only known each other for two weeks, but their fiery, under-the-shirt-over-the-bra love is eternal!
Or is it? Every 15 minutes or so, a classic manipulative conceit gets dusted off with the sole purpose of extending this non-story's running time. Family illness! Cancer! 9/11! Our mouth-breathing saints have no choice but to put their smoldering love on the backburner: Tatum is forced to stay in Iraq (which involves playing with Iraqi children and never using swears), while Seyfried stays home and cares for not one, but two autistic characters (who, she explains, have a special "horse-sense"—because, like horses, they can sense evil).
It's all as real as a Thomas Kinkade painting and twice as intense. Will love conquer all? Will Tatum and Seyfried make irritating babies together? Do you need to ask?