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A Walk to Remember

The hardest part about watching the sappy, preachy teen hanky-fest A Walk to Remember is deciding who to blame for it. The director and stars are excused: Erstwhile choreographer Adam Shankman must have jumped at the chance to helm his second feature (the first was the forgettable Jennifer Lopez vehicle The Wedding Planner), and Mandy Moore and Shane West likely had stars in their eyes over making the leap from supporting cast (she in The Princess Diaries, he on TV's now-canceled Once and Again) to top-billed screen talent. So maybe the finger should be pointed at Nicholas Sparks, the novelist who dreamed up the manipulative redemption/love story in the first place. After all, it was Sparks who created prim preacher's daughter Jamie Sullivan (Moore) and made her fall for self-destructive bad boy Landon Carter (West), only to throw them for a tragic loop just when they'd found happiness. So, yes, let's pin this one on Nicky. (While we're at it, can we blame him for Sweet November and Autumn in New York, too?) Because even decent acting and a well-intentioned message about following your heart can't save this film from becoming a trite, predictable mess. From the minute Landon — who's not really all that troubled — starts trading barbs with Jamie, we know they're meant for each other. And while Moore does a nice job of making Jamie self-confident and secure in her choices and her faith despite what the popular kids think, it's hard not to roll your eyes at her unfailingly perky saintliness. (You can dye the pop princess's hair brown, but that doesn't make her a brunette...) Too bad no one warned Jamie about what tends to happen to angelic teenage girls in Hollywood movies, especially when they've just fallen in love for the first time. Folks in the market for a Christian tearjerker will probably adore A Walk to Remember, but everyone else looking for satisfying teen melodrama should tune into the WB. Warner's DVD is a well-produced disc that should please fans. The anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) is strong, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is the perfect vehicle for songbird Moore's big solos. (Other audio options include a French 5.1 track and English, French and Spanish subtitles.) Supplements include basics like the theatrical trailer, a Moore music video (for "Cry"), and cast filmographies, accompanied by two full-length commentary tracks. The first reunites Shankman, Moore, and West for an enthusiastic, giggly do-you-remember session peppered with "dude!"s and "awesome"s; the second — which is much more sedate — pairs Sparks with screenwriter Karen Janszen. Snap-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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