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Movie Review

Dear John also known as “Querido John,” “Cher John,” “Brangusis Dzonai,” “Das Leuchten der Stille,” “Haikein terveisin,” “John ha'yakar,” “Juntos ao Luar,” “Milý Johne,” “Sevgili John,” “Wciaz ja kocham,” “Дорогой Джон”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sensuality and violence.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Romance, War, Drama, Adaptation
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 5, 2010 (wide—2,500+ theaters)
DVD: May 25, 2010
Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

ANXIETY, worry and fear—What does the Bible say? Answer

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer


How can I deal with temptations? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

War in the Bible

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

Featuring: Channing Tatum (John Tyree), Amanda Seyfried (Savannah Lynn Curtis), Henry Thomas (Tim Wheddon), Richard Jenkins (Mr. Tyree), Scott Porter (Randy), Luke Benward (Alan at 14), Bryce Hogarth (Young John), more »
Director: Lasse Hallström
Producer: Relativity Media, Temple Hill Productions, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Ryan Kavanaugh, Jeremiah Samuels, Tucker Tooley
Distributor: Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment

“What would you do with a letter that changed everything?”

John Tyree (Channing Tatum) is on a two-week leave from the Special Forces and is staying with his reclusive father (Richard Jenkins). After surfing, he eyes the beautiful Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) and acts quickly when her purse falls off a pier. Upon retrieving her purse from the ocean’s depths, the two strike up a conversation and spend the rest of the day together. Not surprisingly, they quickly fall in love. At the end of the two weeks, they promise to write faithfully until John’s one-year deployment ends upon which afterward they can continue their lives together.

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Though the lovely young couple has every intention of keeping their promise, the 9/11 terrorist attack deters their plans when John feels it’s his duty to reenlist with his fellow comrades. Savannah remains by his side until the letters slowly begin to just trickle in. Since the movie’s title derives from the notion of “Dear John” letters, I do not feel it’s a spoiler to say that ultimately John receives his own from Savannah. Years pass and when his father suffers a stroke, John returns to be by his side and then makes the decision to pay a visit to Savannah.

There’s some enjoyment in the film. The characters of Savannah and John are much more pleasant in this love story. In most romantic comedies or dramas, the conflicts are usually within how the leads treat each other, often passing the realistic bounds of any normal tolerance. John and Savannah are loving to one another and sincerely wanted to be together. While this could have provided the perfect ingredient to pull the audience in, the characters are poorly written and vague. We mostly just know that Savannah loves horses and autistic children, and John is estranged from his father and has an enormous devotion to the army. Barely changing within the film’s eight-year time span, their flat characters teeter on the edge of becoming stale.

Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried are excellent for the lead roles. Having seen most of his movies, I was curious how Tatum would perform in a romantic lead. He carries the role well, demonstrating how much his acting has grown. He certainly has chemistry with Amanda Seyfried. While some might feel the film’s mediocrity stems from the two lead actors, I’d have to humbly disagree. They work well with what they were given. While it’s certainly possible for two people to fall in love within a two-week time frame, the film only provides a few scenes of their budding relationship before the montage of wars, letters, and narrations begins. Perhaps if more time was spent on convincing the audience of their love, instead of their destructive separation, the film would have been better received.

Objectionable Content

There is a low amount of cursing, with about 4 uses (1 SOB, 1 GD, and about 2 sh*t). The name of Jesus is misused about 4 times as well. The violence is relatively mild; there’s a brief war scene where a soldier gets shot and is shown in a pool of blood. In another scene, John punches a man and elbows another who approaches him from behind. In a positive subsequent scene, one of the victims quickly forgives John.

The sexual content is heavy. John and Savannah share passionate kisses. During their first kiss, she straddles him, and in another she gets on top of him. Upon reuniting with Savannah after their breakup, John watches her undress. When she notices, Savannah simply stands topless (only shoulders shown), allowing John to stare at her. He notably resists the unspoken invitation and walks away.

When John’s about to be deployed again, they decide to have sex. Though there’s no actual nudity, a lot is still shown. While the movie would have been better off without the scene, I feel it was portrayed negatively. Afterwards, Savannah is shown staring off with tears in her eyes, and the next morning John and Savannah appear more miserable than before, as they bid their goodbyes.

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

Savannah and John sought to get rid of their sadness by consummating their relationship. However, they become worse off, since they sinned. It’s almost common knowledge that Scripture strictly forbids fornication, but one must remember that God is very wise and does not simply create rules for the fun of it. He wishes to keep his children safe from becoming entangled in sin. People who do not have a personal relationship with Christ often try to find peace in perishable, temporary things. Within Christ is the everlasting peace that is the perfect resolution for any woes, anger, or pain. In Philippians 4:6-7, it reads:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I do not personally recommend the film. While the film aims to show the devastation of lost love, I felt it more demonstrated how life almost never works out the way we intend for it to. That is why, it’s always important to put full faith in God and place our lives in his hands and allow him to guide our lives wherever He feels it would be best (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I have to say I really liked this movie. Granted some of the supporting cast acting is not so great. I would not let my 13-18 year old daughters see it, only for adult consumption due to previous mention of sexual issues. Being an army wife, I completely understood the emotions that went along with the movie and the feelings of helplessness, worry, fear that went along with the characters so they did not seem as flat to me, as others have stated. Although, since this movie was based on a book of the same author as “The Notebook,” I would have expected more out of the supporting cast. Loved the main characters, and thought they played their roles very well.

My husband said it was slow and awkward, but isn’t that how life is sometimes? There are so many people that are alone and searching, and it just brings home our responsibility to be a light to those who are.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Ann, age 44 (USA)
Neutral—This movie had the potential to be great, but it lacks morals. The kissing scenes between John and Savannah go a bit far on their own, but it does not end there. The two eventually give into their desires, and this results in a steamy and almost R rated sex scene. Another nude scene is when Savannah changes shirts, but it is brief, and a sex scene is avoided. In my opinion, if one more sex or nude scene would have taken place, this movie would have been rated R.

The primary audience is teens and young adults, and I feel the movie sends a message that sex is acceptable outside of marriage, as long as you love each other, and that is wrong. These scenes are more than enough to create problems for those who struggle with issues regarding their thought life and sex. By all means, this movie should only be viewed by those mature enough to handle it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Leah, age 24 (USA)
Neutral—Overall, I like this movie alright. I pretty much agree with the reviewer regarding the quality of the script and character depth, as well as the lead actors' execution of the characters. I do think it is unfortunate that sex outside of marriage is portrayed as ok if you really love someone. At least they portrayed the harm that it caused in the relationship, as well. The act of sex is so intimate, and whether you know it or not, binds you emotionally with someone on a whole other level.

One thing I really did not like about the script is the amount of crying on the part of John’s character. I am not saying that it is not ok for a man to cry, but it seemed to emasculate the character a bit. You take the character of a strong man capable of making the decision to die for his country and stand by his comrades, and reduce him to a sobbing blob of tears, pleading and begging for a little 17 year old high school girl to “tell [him] what to do.” It was sad really, maybe pathetic is the word. God has called men to be the leaders of the household, to stand beside their mate and lift them up and bring stability and security to a marriage. All to often, Hollywood portrays this incorrectly.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Seana, age 32 (USA)
Neutral—…I think the actors did a great job. I felt they had great chemistry. But the movie left me feeling… off-base. Morally, the movie had several problems, which the reviewer accurately went over so I’m not going to repeat them here. But moral issues aside, what I really didn’t like in the movie was the character of Savannah. She treats John like cr*p and then expects him to behave as if nothing had ever happened, and they can pick up right where they left off. She gave her excuses, but I felt like she never really apologized, and the movie seemed to want the viewer to feel bad for her, as well as for John. I didn’t feel bad for her. The fact that John forgave her and the movie had a semi-happy ending wasn’t enough for me to shake the “off” feeling. Watch it if you want to. Just don’t expect warm fuzzy feelings at the end. Nicolas Sparks other movies (and books) are better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Vivian, age 25 (Brazil)
Neutral—My feelings for “Dear John” are mixed. While it is offensive in some natures, I actually enjoyed this film. From a movie making standpoint, I agree with the reviewer, in that the story needed a little more romantic development. In terms of offensive content, there are a couple sexual scenes that are very offensive and, in my opinion, were not necessary. I did hear some language, but it was mild. There was some violence in the film, but it was mild, as well, and was necessary for this film. In short, I can’t recommend this movie, except to mature adults and teens who are fans of Nicolas Sparks other installments.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Alexander Malsan, age 21 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—I love this movie so much it made me and my friends ball! Overall, it was very good. compared to other romance\chick flicks it has low negative and inappropriate parts, there was one part that could have been left out but you just got to be mature about it. Its great for teens.

From a Christian perspective God would not approve, because he tells us not to have sexual relations before marriage. Even though the world and morally good ethical people would say only it didn’t show all the details about the sexual part God would not approve and we shouldn’t be conforming ourselves by saying oh it was only a little sexual part, and a little cussing and a little violence it was still in it. Basically almost every movie does. But compared to most it’s cleaner.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hannah, age 15 (USA)
Positive—Dear John is a very good movie. The language in this movie is very good. There is one scene that is objectionable It doesn’t show anything, and if you get offended really easy you shouldn’t see it. Overall, this is a sad and good movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Olivia, age 13 (USA)
Positive—I personally thought that this movie was fairly clean. Much of the swearing is mumbled and the sexual content isn’t heavy at all. I loved the movie and I cried the whole way through it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Alyssa, age 15 (Canada)
Positive—Dear John is a very interesting love story. I enjoyed this movie a lot. There is one objectionable scene, but you can easily fast forward through it. There are only a few swear words. I almost rated this as Better than Average, and it is if you fast forward through the one scene. I really enjoyed it. I would suggest renting first before you buy it as you should do with every movie
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Brianna, age 14 (USA)
Negative—“Dear John,” while seeming like a potent romance, is rather boring and somewhat offensive. While there is no real violence, and the language is better than most secular movies today, I agree that the sexuality is a bit offensive. My mom and I fast-forwarded through the one sex scene, and at the speed of 3, we were sitting there for about two minutes, while in fast forward mode, before the scene finally ended. Savannah, the movie’s leading female role, while married (not to John!), notices John watching her change. She stands topless, allowing him to look at her and giving him an unspoken invitation… while married, may I remind you! Thankfully though, John walks away, which I applaud.

The moviemaking quality was poor—no character development ever took place, and the movie just seemed to drag on and on. I was disappointed, all-in-all. I do NOT recommend this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Alexxus, age 13 (USA)