Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Minute Review: The Last Song

The Last Song is a perfectly serviceable Nicholas Sparks adaptation which is, more often than not, right around where Nicholas Sparks adaptations lay. It has the Sparks standbys: the budding romance between two unlikely lovers who start out on the wrong foot, the inevitable death of a key figure, and the trials and tribulations of maintaining a relationship between two people who's backgrounds are so wholly different. And, of course, the pretty bow-tie that everything is always wrapped up in.

The thing is that Sparks is such a middle-of-the-road writer (doing about what he has to and not much more) that his work requires a director who can cut through the melodrama and provide the proper background against which it can soar. The Notebook (still the best Sparks adaptation) found the scope and breadth to provide exactly the right note on which the audience could invest in it. The Notebook was  thus less a Nicholas Sparks adaptation and more a romance in the classic Hollywood vein of a pedigree we rarely ever see anymore. Melodrama can be big but it can't be shameless. That's often where Sparks fails as he meanders aimlessly from one heart tug to the next.

The Last Song sits right in the middle: it's nice, kind of sweet, tugs on the heartstrings a little and then fades away. Maybe it's because the story revolves around a character who is infinitely less interesting than just about everyone around here. Maybe that's partly to blame on star Miley Cyrus who can do broad children's entertainment (for what it's worth) but struggles here with the nuance of involving drama. 

Faring better is Greg Kinnear, so warm and natural, conveying emotions without even so much as trying, as Cyrus' father who is the most emotionally involving thing in the movie until he's unfortunately secured into the role of script convenience in the third act. 

And then the movie ends, leaving one no better or worse from having seen it. A collection of episodes that don't really find the emotional pull to add up to anything substantial. If you want to think of it in relative terms: It's not as good as The Notebook or A Walk to Remember and nowhere near as awful as Nights in Rodanthe.