A Walk to Remember

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The title “A Walk to Remember” refers to the fact that the movie is based on a book called “A Walk to Remember.” Other than that, it has no relevance, because there’s not much walking in the movie. There might be some in the theater, though, as people become overwhelmed by the gooey, romantic sentimentalism and walk out before it’s over.

This thoroughly unoriginal puddle of claptrap aims right at the heart of teen-age girls — the ONLY people who should attempt to watch it. (Even they might find it indistinguishable from other movies they’ve seen.)

It is about a rebellious teen-age boy named Landon Carter (Shane West) who gets a kid nearly killed in a hazing rite and subsequently has to do community service. He is also sentenced by his high school principal to be in the spring musical, which is an odd sort of punishment if you ask me.

Naturally, this boy with a bad attitude and no previous acting experience gets the lead, and playing opposite him is Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), the Pollyanna-ish preacher’s daughter with the voice of an angel and the virtue of a saint. They are opposites, which means they will fall in love.

(The musical they’re in, by the way, was written by a student and apparently has only one song — which Jamie sings, and which is accompanied by a piano and an invisible strings section.)

The romance puts Landon in hot water with his troublemaker friends, and rouses the ire of Jamie’s Bible-thumping dad (Peter Coyote). Then the movie turns weepy and drastic. I won’t spoil it for you; I’ll let the movie spoil itself.

It is written by Karen Janszen (who also wrote “Free Willy 2”), based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. Give credit to the film for portraying religious faith in a positive light without being preachy, and for showing abstinence before marriage as a reasonable option. Those qualities are rare in film, and they are to be applauded.

Good intentions are not enough, however, to make a movie worthwhile. This one is certainly well-meaning, but it’s also simple-minded and contrived. The acting is second-rate and the direction (by Adam Shankman, who gave us “The Wedding Planner”) is merely adequate. It is a movie to forget.

C- (; PG, a lot of mild profanity.)

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