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Sparks Notes: Channing Tatum loves Dad, makes us swoon in 'Dear John'

“Sparks Notes” is one hot-blooded woman’s deep dive into the Nicholas Sparks film oeuvre. Each week, we’ll journey through another movie based on a Sparks novel. Why? Because I’m a lover of romance, the gratuitous use of extremely well-made male forearms, and honestly, I have the time. So, if you’re a Sparks fan, join me as we feel the love, mourn the dying, ogle all the beautiful people who moved to North Carolina, and cry … a lot. Sounds fun, right? Needless to say: SPOILERS ABOUND.

God bless you, Channing Tatum. You’ve bestowed some amazing gifts on us through the years: countless Step Up routines to perform at family functions, your bromance with Jonah Hill, the ability for a grown woman to see a movie about strippers and feel zero shame; these are things for which we can never truly repay you.

This week, I rediscovered one of the original Channing Tatum gifts: Dear John. After the disaster of The Last Song, I was wary of re-watching an old favorite. Could it really be as good as I remembered? No, it can’t—it was even better. Channing Tatum loves his country, his lady, and HIS DAD. I just don’t know how you can ever top that. HE LOVES HIS DAD, YOU GUYS.

Dear John | Released Feb 5, 2010

Directed by Lasse Hallström | Written by Jamie Linden, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks

Starring Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas


TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT-ISH: It starts with a letter. Channing Tatum’s John Tyree is shot in the middle of a war zone and we listen to John tell us that the first thing he thought of when he was shot was collecting coins, how he is like a coin in the U.S. Army, and that the last thing he thought of before blacking out was the person he’s writing this letter to.

Are you swooning yet?

Flashback to the spring of 2001. John is a Special Forces Officer home on leave, who has a little purse-in-ocean meet-cute with do-gooder Savannah (Amanda Seyfried). The two hit it off immediately.

On their first real date, John begrudgingly introduces Savannah to his dad (Richard Jenkins). Mr. Tyree is a little strange, a lot into his coin collection, and even though it’s obvious his relationship with John is strained, he loves his son in his own special way. Savannah diagnoses John’s dad with autism. She’s still in college but her good friend Tim (Henry Thomas) has a son with autism, so she knows things. John is angry and upset, but it does help explain the complicated nature of their relationship. THEY’RE ALL DOING THE BEST THEY CAN, OKAY?

Aside from that bombshell, John and Savannah fall hard for one another. They make out in the rain, build houses together, have guitar jam sessions, you know, your typical falling-in-love type stuff. It’s all very cute and Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried have chemistry out the wazoo. I would honestly watch two hours of them eating lasagna with Mr. Tyree, that’s how great they are together. Also, I’m a big fan of lasagna—we all have our things.

John rejoins his unit and he and Savannah stay in touch by writing letters. Lots and lots of letters. Everything is going well, John is almost done his tour and coming home to Savannah for good, when…9/11 happens.

John’s entire unit volunteers to re-enlist and he breaks the news to Savannah during a quick weekend back in town. To ease the pain, they engage in some very hot barn sex. More importantly, John is much kinder to his dad and their awkward goodbye at the airport makes my tiny heart burst into 10,000 pieces.

John heads to war and there are more letters—until there aren’t. After some radio silence, John receives one last letter from Savannah. Living like this is too hard for her and anyway, she’s engaged to someone else now. Way to make an effort, Savannah. I guess we can just add this love story to the list of things the terrorists have stolen from us.


John buries his heartbreak into more tours and suddenly it’s 2007. Mr. Tyree suffers a massive stroke and John is called home to say goodbye. To adequately express his feelings, John reads a letter he’s written for his dad. IT’S THE LETTER FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE. The last person John thought of when almost died wasn’t Savannah, IT WAS HIS DAD. In the spirit of full disclosure, know that I had to pause the movie here because I was crying. Hard.

Mr. Tyree dies and John is AGAIN heartbroken and Channing is a phenom and do we really need to go on? Okay, okay—the love thing.

John discovers Savannah married her friend Tim, but Tim has stage-4 cancer and is going to die if he doesn’t get some very expensive experimental drug. What does John do? He sells his dad’s coin collection (all but one very sentimental coin) and anonymously donates the money to Tim. Tim lives for two glorious months and then dies anyway, and some time later Savannah sees John locking up his bike in front of a cafe (WHAT?) and the two embrace. So…I guess they end up together?

Don’t think about the ending, think about the lasagna and the dad stuff. That’s the real love story here.

AND WHAT DID WE LEARN ABOUT LOVE IN CLASS TODAY? The love between a father and son can be extremely sexy. Er, wait—there’s got to be a better way to say that…

BUT HOW DID IT MAKE YOU FEEL? I never simultaneously wanted to hold and be held by a human person as much as I did Sergeant John Tyree in this movie.


  • Are the two main characters from different worlds? Savannah’s current List of Worries includes items such as: “Will I be able to secure funding to create a horse-based summer camp for autistic kids?” and “Does my professor know I’m always reading letters from my boyfriend during his lectures?” Whereas John’s list includes things like: “Does my dad love me?” and “Will I die in Afghanistan today?” So…yes.
  • Are there parents who don’t approve? Not really. Savannah’s mom is unable to resist the Power of Channing, and her dad is too busy throwing a weird 9/11 party to really notice.
  • Is there time spent palling around in some type of water-based location? Real life gripe: What is up with guys chasing their girlfriends around on the beach? Is this supposed to be cute? Maybe I’m crazy but, being run down by an imposing male figure and then flung into the ocean is actually called attempted murder.
  • Does someone die? Mr. Tyree’s death hit me hard, and Tim’s, well, Tim was a total third wheel, so: BYE, FELICIA.
  • Is there a wise older person? Mr. Tyree doesn’t let that shady dude swindle him out of a very valuable coin and therefore gives John the means to cure Tim’s cancer for two months.
  • Do the men perform activities that require well-developed forearms? John Tyree is a forearm tour de force. I kept a running list of his achievements and they are, in no particular order: surfing, teaching others how to surf, punching guys, making fire, soldier-related responsibilities, building a house for charity to impress a girl, eating lasagna, barn sex, and HOLDING A LETTER TO READ TO HIS DYING FATHER WHILE CRYING.

On deck: Mother Nature giveth and Mother Nature taketh awaybasically, Mother Nature is a real bitch in Nights in Rodanthe.

TV Families | EW.com
February 23, 1990 at 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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