Very few people expected A Walk to Remember, a teen drama starring pop princess Mandy Moore, to succeed, but it did. I didn't expect to like the movie at all, but I did. To a point.
I am a 20-year old guy, so A Walk to Remember's story is hardly appealing to me. Basically, two high school teenagers, one a popular guy (Shane West), the other a less-than-liked daughter of the local reverend, fall in love, but at some stage in their relationship he finds out that she is dying. Has it been done before? Yes, most definitely. Does A Walk to Remember have anything new to offer? No, not really. But when all is said and done, the decent performances and the film's attempts to avoid at least some clichés gives it a positive mark in my book, even if I wouldn't watch it again.
When I heard that Mandy Moore was starring in a movie, I rolled my eyes. When I heard that it was a teen romance, I wasn't at all surprised, but I still gagged; most of these people go into the music industry for a reason, and that reason is that they can sing, not act. So anyway, I was a little skeptical as to whether Moore could do anything resembling acting, but I was very pleasantly surprised. She actually does a very good job, for a pop singer, and saves face by deciding not to be the popular girl in school. Of course, this makes her the pretty "ugly" girl, but aside from that, she pulls off her character quite well. Shane West, who has been in a lot of teen comedies ranging from Get Over It to Whatever It Takes (none of which have been very extraordinary) also gives a very believable performance. He shows that he has some range in the emotions department. I also liked that the lead is essentially given to West, since he is the real actor; Moore has a large but not leading role.
Of course, behind every teen romance are the things that plague every film like this. While the central act of A Walk to Remember is very well done, the first and third acts are a little shaky at times. The third act definitely won't appeal to most guys (well, the whole movie really won't), but from a critical viewpoint the movie really loses its pace once Moore becomes bedridden. It's not horrible, and again avoids some of the clichés that go along with death scenes and so forth, but at times is only tolerable to watch.
The part that really hurts the film, though, is the beginning. West is presented as a cool jerk, one of those guys that everyone wants to be but that doesn't care about anyone else. The script is really poorly written in the scenes depicting West, and his friends, as the top dogs of the school; things just simply don't happen like this. It's annoying enough in teenage comedies, but in teenage dramas it really stands out because the movie is trying to take itself seriously. In some of the earlier chapters, West absolutely ignores Moore while walking through the halls because it would be "un-cool" to acknowledge her. Having been in high school only a couple years ago, I can say that things really aren't that bad. The cool people are allowed to talk to the not-so-cool people without losing face, and for the most part they are pretty nice to the "nerds" as long as they aren't complete whackos. Considering that Moore is un-cool only because she wears a weird sweater and is in the drama club, it really doesn't make sense as to why West and his friends are so cruel to her.
A Walk to Remember was surprisingly a lot better than I expected. There's really not that much originality to it, but the actors do a pretty good job, and more than anything else, I am impressed that Moore was willing to try something a little more challenging than, say, Britney Spears in Crossroads. Young women should like it, and from a critical viewpoint, it's really not that bad.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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