Dear John

We have a new entry in the Soggy-Hanky School of Cinema. Based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks ("The Notebook"), this chick flick should give you a good emotional workout.

Lasse Hallström ("Hachiko: A Dog's Story") brings us a lovely romance between a former angry adolescent now reformed by the U.S. Army, played by Channing Tatum ("G.I. Joe") and dewy-eyed coed Amanda Seyfried ("Momma Mia!"). Even though Mr. Tatum's segue into more dramatic roles is to be applauded, most of us gals simply admired what a strapping young fellow he has become! My, my!

In my opinion however, the guy who walks off with the acting honors is dependable supporting actor, Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor"). In this film he plays the high-functioning autistic father of our hero; he makes no wrong moves, is consistently believable and has a wrenching scene that consists of one hand moving toward his son. (Yes... This is a spoiler and it won't detract one bit from the effectiveness of the scene!)

In brief, our romantic leads meet on the beach, enjoy a summer romance and agree to keep in touch via U.S. mail while he completes his tour of duty in the mid-East. Suddenly it's 9/11 and he is expected to re-up with his Special Services unit in a show of solidarity. What he decides and what happens next is the crux of the story.

It is nice to see special effort made to honor our military, both in the way the characters are depicted and by having ordinary citizens express their gratitude. This is a satisfying and involving film, better than I expected. But then again, it IS directed by Lasse Hallström.