Walk to Remember
(2002) - Pandora/Warner (Warner)
by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
102 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual layered (layer switch at ???), Snapper case
packaging, audio commentary (with Shane West, Mandy Moore and
director Adam Shankman), audio commentary (with novelist Nicholas
Sparks and screenwriter Karen Janszen), Mandy Moore
Cry music video, theatrical
trailer, filmographies, film-themed menus, scene access (29
chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1 - French dubbed in
Quebec), subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Closed Captioned
(Shane West) is the town's bad seed. He drinks, smokes and basically
throws his life away because it's "cool". When he
accidentally injures another kid in an initiation stunt, his single
mother and school principal force Landon to face reality and try to
make him do something about himself. Obviously, Landon thinks it's
stupid and does not want to change. But in the activities he's
forced to do after school, which include tutoring kids on the
weekend and playing a part in the spring play, he's paired with
Janey (Mandy Moore).
Janey is the daughter of the town's preacher, a young woman who is
ridiculed for her faith in God and the fact she's been wearing the
same sweater since the fourth grade. Everyone sees her as simply a
bible-reading goodie-two-shoes. But as Landon is forced to spend
time with her, he begins to see much more in her. She's into
astronomy, she can sing like nobody's business and, despite her
faith in God, she doesn't have all of the answers.
When Landon asks Janey to tutor him, she agrees with one condition
- that he won't fall in love with her. He thinks nothing of this,
but as he begins to change for the better (thanks to his love for
Janey), they both will be forced to face ridicule and an impossible
fate that will test both of their young hearts.
A Walk to Remember takes it's
cue from those old, weepy/creepy romantic movies from the 50's and
60's. It's got your clichéd "Boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks-loves-preacher's-daughter"
plotline, and there really is no way to avoid talking about how
overtly obvious it is, or of its Love
Story-esqe ending. But there are two things that put this
film ahead of the pack. First is its portrayal of Christianity. The
film doesn't make grand religious statements, but at the same time
doesn't vilify it either. It's interesting that much of the Janey
character is based upon her faith, yet her faith is much different
than her father's. Without giving too much of the plot away, I will
say that her faith is based more on her belief that everything in
the world will turn out all right. Part of her reluctance to love
Landon is that he questions the existence of a higher power ("Don't
give me another reason to hate God," she says at one point).
But her belief that Landon will reform comes out of the belief that
everything will be all right.
The film is also different in that both leads are good actors and
perform quite well. Shane West is well cast as the rebel, both in
look and in style. West is able to embody both a youthful
roguishness and a loving boyfriend in the same film, and it's quite
interesting to watch his transformation. But even more surprising is
Mandy Moore, who has the quieter, but more challenging role, as the
girl whose faith is tested to enormous lengths. Moore just shines
here, and it's easy to see why she's somewhat abandoned her singing
career to do more acting. Moore received good reviews for this
performance, and it'll be interesting to see where she'll be five
years down the road.
On disc, A Walk to Remember
is a nice package. The video transfer is crisp, displaying no avert
signs of edge enhancement. Detailing is also good, and there is a
nice deep black level. The picture does look a little soft, and the
colors a bit mudded, but it seems to be from the cinematography not
the transfer itself. The audio is also a bit unimpressive, but given
the nature of the film, it doesn't require a lot from the surrounds.
The dialogue is always clear, and the surrounds are used primarily
for ambience. They are, however, used to great effect during chapter
12, where Janey sings a song in the school play. The song seems to
fill the room, and is really well mixed, sonically.
We are treated to not one, but two audio commentaries. The first is
with Shane West, Mandy Moore and director Adam Shankman. Though
somewhat entertaining, they really don't add anything spectacular if
you're looking for the process behind the film, instead of just
antidotes. A lot of the discussion is centered on how great everyone
is, and what Shankman's dog did when he visited the set. The second
commentary is by novelist Nicholas Sparks (who also wrote
Message in a Bottle) and
screenwriter Karen Janszen. This commentary obviously centers on the
script, and primarily the differences between the book and the film.
While both took their jobs seriously, they do occasionally note how
melodramatic some of the situations seem, which I thought was nice,
as they didn't drone on about how great the story is.
Also included is Mandy Moore's Cry
video. Presented in full-frame, the video doesn't include any
footage from the film (thankfully), and instead has an odd storyline
that seems to imply that Shane West is obsessing over Mandy after
the filming of the movie, with Mandy singing over a bluescreen.
Quite odd, but if you didn't find the song annoying, check it out.
Finally, there are some barebones filmographies and an
anamorphically enhanced trailer.
A Walk to Remember is an odd
teen movie that decides to take the high road, and tells a story
without fart jokes or climaxes at the prom. Though not completely
able to overcome its more melodramatic plot threads, the nice
performances by both leads are a nice distraction for a lazy
afternoon. And this is a good film to watch with the whole family -
a rare thing indeed.