My friend Lori texted me yesterday and said, “Hey, what are you doing tomorrow night? I’ve got passes to the sneak preview of ‘Dear John’. Wanna go?” Um, chick flick, night out away from the crazies, and F-R-E-E. “Heck yeah”, I responded, even offering to drive. And voila, a plan was hatched.
So this evening we made our way down to the Power & Light district to the AMC theatre on Main. I hadn’t been downtown since, well since I took my 10-year-old to the Jonas Brothers concert last summer. Before I go any further, I have to say that downtown Kansas City sure has gotten cool. Those of you who’ve lived here a while know what I’m talking about. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have said this, but there is definitely something about walking the streets of our downtown now that feels alive. The lights. The people. The energy. What a fabulous city to call my home, I love this town. But I digress….
We arrived at the theatre early so we decided to have a bite to eat at The Marquee Bar & Grill, a restaurant just inside the theatre that I would highly recommend. I was delighted to find out that they serve breakfast all day. Lori and I ordered the Classic French Crepes (which were delivered to our table floating in a pond of butter) and “The B&G” (stands for biscuits and gravy) to share. I can imagine what you might be thinking or saying to yourselves right now. But, hey, don’t judge. I’m still plenty of weeks away from swimsuit season.
Closer to movie time we made our way inside the theatre. Because the movie hasn’t been released yet, we were required to give up our cell phones at the ticket booth and agree to be wanded going into the theatre. Having now seen the movie, this level of security seems a bit ridiculous to me but we complied nonetheless. After all, pirating is a serious issue as I’ve recently been told by my 10-year-old with the perfect moral compass.
The movie stars Channing Tatum (Step Up, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!). John (played by Tatum) is on a two-week leave from the Army Special Forces when he meets Savannah (Seyfried) somewhat fortuitously on a beach in South Carolina. The movie starts by telling the sweet story of how they met and fell in love during that two-week leave. When he returns to duty, with only one year left in his tour and enlistment, and Savannah returns to college they agree to write as often as they can. Upon the background of a pretty good soundtrack, the movie unfolds to show how their love and longing for one another grows through the writing and receipt of these letters. Read: it was already time to pull out the tissues – thank you Lori.
Toward the very end of his duty 9/11 occurs and every member of his unit decides to voluntarily re-enlist except John, who hesitates. They are given 48 hours leave to consider their decision so John decides to fly back to see Savannah. At the same time, we see John’s relationship with his autistic father (played by Richard Jenkins), who has raised John by himself, unfold to reveal a broken relationship but a shared appreciation for rare coins. Again, more tissues please.
The movie, up to this point, has been extremely sweet but predictable. But now, we witness a very odd development between Savannah and “Tim” (Henry Thomas, of ET fame). Tim is a long-time friend of Savannah’s and the father of a son who is also autistic. He befriends John and there are some awkward moments between the two of them with Tim explaining to John that his wife is “on vacation” – which means, she split but he can’t tell his son because he is trying to protect him.
This is where the movie starts to take a turn for the toilet, as in, “it has almost been two hours so we have to quickly try to explain these relationships and wind this thing up.” The end of the movie feels like the end of a roller coaster ride. You know, where the car pulls up to the station and stops abruptly throwing your body forward and nearly giving you whiplash? Everyone else thought the same thing because there was a collective gasp followed by a “That’s it?!” from the entire crowd when the lights came on and credits started to roll.
So, you ask, was it a happy ending or did he die in battle? I won’t tell ya. But what I will say is wait until it hits the Red Box nearest you to find out.
My Rating: 2 stars for the movie and 4.5 stars for the restaurant.