Dear John - A Movie Review

Dear John is a movie based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. In the movie, Channing Tatum plays John Tyree, an angry rebel who joined the army after dropping out of high school.

One day while hanging out on the beaches of South Carolina, he notices the purse of a pretty blond girl fall into the ocean.Without thinking, he springs into action, dives into the ocean and rescues her purse. And that's how John Tyree meets Savannah Curtis, played by Amanda Seyfried.

Amanda Seyfried plays Savannah Curtis.
Amanda Seyfried plays Savannah Curtis. | Source

John and Savannah Fall in Love

John discovers that Savannah doesn't drink, smoke, swear or seem to have any vices at all. He also finds out that Savannah is spending her summer break from college building houses for charity. In the next two weeks, the ex-rebel and the southern sweetheart fall in love.

In the time that they have together, John introduces Savannah to his father, played by Richard Jenkins. John has never really understood his father who is quiet, likes routine, and keeps to himself. The only thing the two know how to talk about is his dad's extensive coin collection. Savannah discovers this is the only thing John's father can talk to her about as well.

Before heading back to school, Savannah and John have a huge fight. Savannah, who has experience with autistic kids, thinks John's dad may have Asperger's syndrome. When she tries to relay this information to him, John becomes very angry and accuses her of wanting to spend time with his dad so that she can study him. The two make up before they part their separate ways and they begin writing letters to each other in the 12 months they are apart.

John promises her that in 12 months he will be finished with his military duties and he will be with her for good. But something happens that neither John, Savannah nor anyone else in the world could have been prepared for - September 11th.

Channing Tatum plays John Tyree.
Channing Tatum plays John Tyree. | Source

The Final Letter

Soon after the tragedy of 9/11, everyone on John's special forces teams decides to re-up for another tour of duty. John is torn between loyalty to his country and his desire to be with Savannah. He decides to stay in the Army. He leaves a heartbroken Savannah behind in South Carolina.

At the beginning of their separation, they continue to write letters to one another. But after a while, there are no more letters from Savannah and no phone calls either.

Finally, the last Dear John letter arrives with Savannah telling him she is engaged. John thinks he knows who it is and grief-stricken and angry, he burns all of his letters from Savannah. Soon after, he decides to stay in the army and make a career out of it.

Coming Home

After the heart-wrenching news from Savannah, things continue to go downhill for John as he gets shot and is severely injured. After recovering in a hospital in Germany and going back on duty, he gets sent home because his father is deathly ill. He goes home to South Carolina to be with him. For the first time ever, in a very touching scene, John reveals his feelings to his father about how much he loves him.

After his father's death, he drives to Savannah's ranch where he discovers whom she married. He also discovers that her husband is in the hospital with cancer. She tells him there are experimental drugs available for his illness but their insurance doesn't cover them. John goes to the hospital to see her husband who tells John he knows Savannah is still in love with him.

Later, at home Savannah and John have a heart to heart talk and almost falter in a moment of weakness. John tells her he has to go and Savannah says to him, "See you soon, then," which has always been their way of saying goodbye. When John doesn't repeat the phrase like he usually does, she begs him to say it. Instead he says, "Goodbye Savannah."

John decides to sell his father's coin collection, which he had inherited. It is given to Savannah and her husband in the form of an anonymous donation in order to cover the cost of Savannah's husband's treatment.

In the movie, the cancer treatments gives her husband a few more months to be with his family and to say his goodbyes. The last scene of the movie shows Savannah and John meeting once again and embracing one another.

My Thoughts (Spoiler Alert!)

If you are reading this and have yet to see the movie, I apologize for giving the ending away. The reason I did is because I wanted to compare how the book ended to how the movie ended. And I must say, I was extremely disappointed by how the movie ended. Though, I would have to say that for the most part, I thought the movie was really good.

I found myself in near tears at the very beginning of the movie knowing what was going to happen between John and Savannah. Dear John continued to pull at my heartstrings throughout the movie and I found myself wiping away tears during a few parts. The scene between John and his dying father was especially touching and was probably the scene in which Channing Tatum did his best acting.

But then at the end, Savannah's husband dies and the last scene is of John and Savannah embracing one another. You would think that I would have been happy that after everything John and Savannah went through, they ended up together. After all, that's how a love story is supposed to end. But for me, it ruined the concept of John being a truly selfless person and the idea that even though two people may love each other deeply, life happens and they don't always end up together.

The way the book ends gives you much more to think about compared to how the movie ends which gives you just another sappy, they-lived-happily-ever after love story.

I'm curious to hear from others who have seen the movie and if you have seen the book, which version you like better. If you like a good love story, then go ahead and see the movie but if you're looking for more I highly encourage you to read the book.

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Comments 47 comments

Lisa Aune 6 years ago

I would like to first tell you that I have not read the book but plan too. I did enjoy the movie, was happy to see a movie without the language. I wasn't thrilled about the barn scene though. The part that strikes me the most was that I had no idea this movie had an autistic twist in it. I have a 4 year old son with most of the Asperger's syndrome symptoms. We have not had him diagnosed and probably won't unless necessary. The point I am getting at is that I was surprised how many characteristics I saw in John's father that mimicked my son. The facial expressions and mannerisms were much the same as my sons. The producers did well with this part. I do look forward to reading the book.


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

I was interested in your review because I've read the book but haven't seen the movie.


JenDobson27 profile image

JenDobson27 6 years ago

Thanks for the review! I think I'll have to check this one out. It's one that I have really wanted to see, but just haven't had time.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Hi Lisa! Yes, I thought the dad having Asperger's added a lot to the book and to the movie and I also thought the movie did a great job of portraying someone with this condition. Faith's speech therapist said she figured out the dad had Asperger's before it was even revealed. Thanks for your comment!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

sheila b. thanks for your comment. If you do see the movie, I'll be curious to know which you like better.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

JenDobson27 - check it out when you have a chance and let me know what you think!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Cari, I haven't read the book or seen the movie. I would probably read the book first as I usually like to do that even though the movies are often disappointing after the book. This was an interesting hub. Thanks.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

I read the book, but have not seen the movie. I agree with your take on this, the book seems deeper and more profound. The movie ends the way a fairy tale should end, which is not real life.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Pamela99 - Thanks for your comment - I usually do the same thing, read the book then watch the movie then get disappointed by the movie but I rarely watch the movie then decide to read the book.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

breakfastpop - I guess I'm one who would rather see or read something that seems more real as opposed to fantasy. I guesss that's why my favorite movies are based on true stories!


HealthyHanna profile image

HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but I have wanted to, and now I will (probably read the book). I like happy endings, espeicially in movies, as I like to leave up beat and would like to believe in fairytales. Movies are just short entertainment, books give you insight into real life. I like real life growing experiences best.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

HealthyHanna - I agree, I like real life growing experiences best too. Thanks so much for your comment.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

I just saw a preview of this movie yesterday. I'll watch the film and let you know what I think of it then. Your review is outstanding. Thank you. Now I'm even more intrigued.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

James - I'll be very curious what you think of it. Thanks for your comment - always good to hear from you!


Kate  6 years ago

I haven't heard of Dear John till I saw the movie trailers coming out. I ran out and brought the book instantly and read it in 2 days and then was counting down the days for the movie to finally come out. I was fully dissapsointed with the movie. The whole ending of the book with John saying goodbye to Savanhah is heart wrenching and the movie completely reuins the emotions that should have been played in the end by putting them back together. Yes, they loved eachother and yes it's nice to see a couple together but what Nicholas Sparks plaed out throught the whole book is that John because non-selfish and because of that, risked his happiness for his true love.


katodos profile image

katodos 6 years ago from italy

I have read the novel in Italian. I love Nicholas.

I think I prefer the novel ending


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Kate - I agree with you that the movie's ending ruins what Nicholas Sparks was trying to capture in the book. In the book John did risk his happiness so that the one he loved could be happy. Thanks for giving me your thoughts!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

katodos - I didn't know the book was published in Italian but it does not surprise me as Nicholas Sparks is known around the world and is probably published in many languages. Thanks for your comment.


norbit profile image

norbit 6 years ago

good movie, I liked


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

norbit - thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the movie.


Houa Lor profile image

Houa Lor 6 years ago from Minnesota

I haven't seen the movie, but I've read the book as the author is a favorite of mine. I've seen the trailer and I've compared it to what I've read and as always the movie doesn't always do the book any justice. What I don't like about it is that John is portrayed as a tough guy in the book, ie, tattoos! And in the film, you don't see any. It's one of the reasons why Savannah's friends don't approach him because he seems like the type that wouldn't seem approachable. One of the other thing I didn't like is that they made Savannah the blonde instead of keeping her as the brunette that was in the book. If you read the book, the blonde is the one who ignores his "hello," when they first meet on the beach. And as you did give the ending of the film away, I believe the book has a deeper meaning than the film. I would have liked the movie to stay as it did in the book where they don't end up together. It teaches John a lesson about life and love. But a great write you have here.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Houa Lor - You're right, I forgot that in the book John had tatoos and was a much tougher guy in the book than in the movie. I agree that the book has a much deeper meaning than the film. Thanks so much for your comment.


optimus grimlock profile image

optimus grimlock 6 years ago

I cant wait to see this movie it look really well made!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

optimus grimlock - thanks for your comment - I hope you enjoy it!


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

Hi Cari I just saw this movie the other night and I thought that it was well done. However, I know what you mean about book endings vs movie endings because the movies usually are dissapointing compared to books. I have read a few Nicholas Sparks books but I didn't read this one so now I am intrigued to read it. You gave an excellent review and thanks for sharing it. Cheers.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

ladyjane1 - thanks so much for your comment. I would be curious to know what you think about the book if you get a chance to read it and how you think it compares to the movie.


bladesofgrass profile image

bladesofgrass 6 years ago from The Fields of Iowa

I really liked this movie. I even convinced a few of my guys friends to watch it and they all changed their tone of "it's a chick flick, I don't want to see it" to "It was really a good movie." LOL Great Hub..thanks :)


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

bladesofgrass - glad you talked some guys into going and that they thought it was a good movie. My husband went to it with me and he thought it was good as well, though he was a little baffled by the ending, which I explained to him that it ended differently in the book.


swosugrad09 profile image

swosugrad09 6 years ago from Oklahoma

Wow now I am going to have to read the book and watch the movie lol. Great hub, thanks for the insight!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

swosugrade09 - I'd be interested to know what you think about the book and the movie. Thanks for your comment!


izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

i might see the movie.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

izettl - if you see it, I'd be interested to know what you think. Thanks for your comment.


ruth 6 years ago

this is a nice hub. I have read the novel first and was excited to know that it was then made to a movie. I cried a lot while reading novel. The movie was nice but some of the events were altered, especially the ending.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

ruth - thanks for your comment. I cried too while reading the book and also during the movie but I really wish they wouldn't have changed the ending for the movie.


ballfan92 profile image

ballfan92 5 years ago

Wasn't really a fan of the movie because I read the book a few years ago and it was so good and I think the movie ruined it.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 5 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

ballfan92 - I agree that the movie sort of ruined it - especially the ending! I have the book but will never own the DVD!


divacratus profile image

divacratus 5 years ago from India

This sounds really interesting! I think I will read the book first because I like how things are explained more in detail on paper. Thanks for sharing! :)


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 5 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

yolanda - thanks for your feedback!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 5 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

divacratus - thanks so much for your comment. Yes, read the book first!


Jared Lijen 4 years ago

Ah just love your book Review . And the comments actually for instanc Cari haha Read first then Watch Movie then get dissapointing . DEAR JOHN IS JUST GREAT BOOK its a must read


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 4 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

Jared - thanks so much for your comment. I agree that it is a must read but a must see - not so much!


jjexon profile image

jjexon 4 years ago

Beautiful page I like it


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 4 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

jjexon - thanks so much for your kind comment!


sammimills profile image

sammimills 4 years ago from California, USA

I like the movie, though the ending was not the one I was expecting but, the over all movie for me is great. I like Nicolas Sparks. Great hub!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 4 years ago from Bismarck, ND Author

sammimills - thanks for your comment. While it is a great movie, the book is even better!


maryambegumx 2 years ago

The movie was so great, I loved it, it's one of the bestest films i've ever seen. The ending was boring, it shouldn't have ended like that.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 18 months ago from Bismarck, ND Author

maryabegumx - I agree - the movie should not have ended like that!

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