Okay, so this movie doesn’t really break a lot of new ground. Bad boy gets paired up with good girl, falls in love with her and turns his life around. We’ve seen the movie 100 times before. Almost. The ending here is a lot less happy (though arguably just as cheesy) than all of those others.
The movie gets a lot of things right. There’s just enough foreshadowing of sorrow on the horizon that, on subsequent viewings, you’re forced to wonder how you missed it the first time. Mandy Moore is phenomenal and really becomes her character. Peter Coyote and Shane West are also solid.
The problem with these movies is the pacing and this one comes up particularly short in that area. You need for everybody to come around and become a better person, but so much time is used showing us how rotten Landon’s (Shane West) friends are that when they finally come around, it’s too sudden and forced. Landon and Jamie (Moore) also fall for each other far too quickly. It’s believable that she was pining for him for years and even that she saw something in him to make her overlook his shortcomings, but his transformation is abrupt enough to cause whiplash. Once tragedy befalls our young couple, the rest of the film seems a bit rushed as well.
While the pacing is muddled and some of the character’s reactions are shoehorned into the allotted time, that’s par for the course with these films. This one may be a bit more so, but there’s more going on behind the scenes and the tears that will be jerked from you along the way make up for it. The story is strong and the peripheral items like the soundtrack are well done as well. This is a chick flick that a guy can actually sit through in something less than misery and WILL make you…ah…make your allergies act up.