Home > Vulture News > THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Poorly Reviewed ‘Dear John’ And ‘Paris’ Set To De-Throne ‘Avatar’…Maybe

THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Poorly Reviewed ‘Dear John’ And ‘Paris’ Set To De-Throne ‘Avatar’…Maybe

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Rolling into theaters this weekend as official counter-programming to both Avatar and the Superbowl is the romantic weepie, Dear John. It’s based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, an author who has made a career out of “opposites attract” melodramas that have been adapted for the big screen (Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe). When a formula works for audiences, it really works. All of those movies have made a lot of money and this latest one may very well unseat Avatar from the top spot at the box office.

Dear John stars Amanda Seyfried (last seen in the abysmal Jennifer’s Body) as rich girl in love with a poor soldier, who’s played by Channing Tatum (last seen in the equally abysmal G.I. Joe). It was directed by Academy Award favorite Lasse Hallström (The Cider House dear-john-posterRules) — although something tells me he may not be so praised this time around. In a recent interview with Hollywood Chicago, Seyfried tried to sell the flick as something more than just a cliché-ridden melodrama:

It was a realistic love story. All the elements that surround the film were real-life scenarios. Things that we deal with as a society, where we were on 9/11, soldiers going overseas and people left behind. It’s something that people relate to. Savannah [her character] is pretty strong-willed, but what really appealed to me is that she knew who she was. That is special, she’s a good role model.

A better role model than the blue Na’vi people of Avatari? I think not.

THE BUZZ: Bad. In The Boston Globe, Janice Page writes:

There’s predictable attraction in the clash of opposites: he Tarzan, she Jane. If only screenwriter Jamie Linden (We Are Marshall) could write dialogue half as good as that.

Betsey Sharkey of The LA Times adds:

There’s no real depth or texture to the characters of any sort, sentimental or otherwise, and I say that as someone who can be brought to tears by a Hallmark commercial.

Will these bad reviews stop teenage girls from flocking to see it? No way. They’re an easy-to-please demographic, which explains Dear John‘s chances of de-throning Avatar.

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The only other major opener this weekend is From Paris With Love, the new actioner from Pierre Morel (Taken). It’s about two CIA agents (John Travolta, in his usual full-on bad guy mode complete with a Michael Chiklis-like bald cranium, and Tudors from_paris_with_loveheartthrob, Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who are stationed in the city of love to stop dangerous terrorists. The movie’s tagline says all you need to know about what it’s trying to be:

Two agents. One city. No merci.

It basically wants to be the most irritatingly tongue-in-cheek thriller since Shoot ‘Em Up.

THE BUZZ: Bad. In The Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert seems to agree about Love‘s annoying references, such as when Travolta mentions that his favorite food is the “Cheese Royale”:

That’s a little joke reminding us of Pulp Fiction, and the last thing you should do is remind the audience of a movie they’d rather be home watching… I hasten to say this is not criticism of John Travolta. He succeeds in this movie by essentially acting in a movie of his own.

Claudia Puig, of USA Today, disagrees. She writes:

The preposterously silly and bullet-riddled From Paris With Love is so leaden and obnoxious that it actually makes you long for the John Travolta of Old Dogs. Well, maybe that’s a stretch. But Travolta overplays his trigger-happy, racist, sexist character so much that he qualifies as one of the most annoying screen presences ever. This is meant to be a mismatched buddy spy thriller, but it’s hard to imagine who would possibly want to be his buddy.

If audiences listen to the reviews this weekend, Avatar may be crowned the winner after all. Or at least come in second to the Superbowl.

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