I caught up on some DVD's last week (of course I was disappointed in most of them!) but "Dear John" actually had a lot of potential to be a great film (in the romantic love story genre of course) but it just was missing some key elements - such as:
1. Instant chemistry - It is hard for a film to pull off "love at first sight" in my opinion. However, another Nicholas Sparks book turned film The Notebook pulled it off beautifully. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams oozed this undeniable chemistry that Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried lack. It is essential for the actors to have this chemistry in order to make it realistic that these 2 people fall in love in a mere 2 weeks time. If the audience doesn't invest in their love, then the whole film becomes pointless. Which for me, this film did.
2. More subplots! - Since I didn't believe in the love story aspect, I would have appreciated more of the subplots (which I think are probably explored more in the book). Richard Jenkins was outstanding as the father that suffered from undiagnosed autism displaying both extreme social anxiety and OCD. While, the other subplot - 9/11 - was pretty much swept under the rug (a huge mistake). The film could have explored the effect that this tragedy had on everyone, especially the young men and women that were serving our country.
3. A girl with flaws - The girl is too idealistic it practically makes her stupid – someone fighting for kids with autism and building houses for the needy can't seem to grasp why her boyfriend wants to re – enlist in the Army after 9/11? That doesn't really make much sense to me. She claims to have flaws but they didn’t actually give her any (she doesn’t drink, smoke or sleep around – which are all apparently considered “flaws”). No flaws = No depth.