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Sparks Notes: 'A Walk to Remember,' making bucket lists sexy since 2002

“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 and 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.

There may be times while we discuss A Walk to Remember that you’re going to think I’m exaggerating to be funny, or I’m being sarcastic. I need you to know: I’m being 100 percent serious. For instance, when I say things like, “This is a movie that defined a generation,” that’s not a joke. I mean that sincerely. Okay, maybe the “generation” is more “me, as a 16-year-old,” but the sentiment is the same. One night, I watched A Walk to Remember twice in a row … and that’s basically all you need to know about me as a person and about how this post is going to go. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

A Walk to Remember | Released Jan 25, 2002

Directed by Adam Shankman | Screenplay by Karen Janzsen, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks

Starring Shane West, Mandy Moore, Peter Coyote, Daryl Hannah


TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT-ISH: When we first meet Landon Carter (Shane West), he’s a bad seed. He and his cool-kid friends force a very nice boy to jump from a high platform into shallow water. Teenagers are dumb; also, they’re the worst. When they realize the kid is actually hurt and the security guard spots them, they run.

Landon weasels his way out of trouble with the cops, but the school principal provides his own trifecta of punishment: janitorial duty, tutoring, and the spring play. All three of these activities put him right in the crosshairs of Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), the Reverend’s (Peter Coyote) sweater-clad, astronomy-loving daughter, whose greatest ambition is to witness a miracle.

Landon is intrigued.

For some reason, they give the kid who is only there for detention the lead in the spring play, and Landon asks Jamie to help him rehearse. The play is set in the 1920s and forces Shane West to try to believably say words like “doll face,” “keister,” and “fat cats.” It’s awesome and I would watch the full version. You know, if someone maybe wanted to write up a few acts and send them to me, like, if you have time.

With the condition that Landon doesn’t fall in love with her, Jamie agrees to help. But when Landon makes it clear he doesn’t want his cool friends to know he hangs out with her, Jamie slams the door in his face. She may only wear granny sweaters, but Jamie Sullivan is a boss. This whole mini-fight leads to one of my favorite movie montages of all time, set to The New Radicals’ “Mother, We Just Can’t Get Enough,” featuring the greatest slow-mo hallway pass-by in recorded history. THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT HER, LANDON.

It’s opening night, and Jamie sings like a f—ing angel, you guys. Landon can’t take his eyes off her non-sweater-covered shoulders. He’s so overcome with feeling that he ad-libs a little smooch. It’s official: He’s totally into her. Because Jamie has a good sense of self, she calls out Landon on his crap and tells him to prove it.

He attempts to prove it to her in the following ways: an impassioned speech about her being scared to let him in, buying her a brand-new granny sweater, and disowning his friends for making terribly Photoshopped flyers about her. We all know it’s the granny sweater that convinces her. Landon Carter knows his audience.

Much to Reverend Sullivan’s chagrin, Landon and Jamie start dating. On the first date, Landon preps some swoon-worthy activities in order to cross items off of Jamie’s life bucket list, like straddling the state line so she can be in two places at once, or very steamily adhering a temporary tattoo to her shoulder. By the time he gets around to telling her he might kiss her (“I might be bad at it.” “That’s not possible.”), we’re all audibly squealing (I’m assuming). Then Landon tells Jamie he loves her. Normally, I’m against this sort of thing, because it’s ridiculous, but nope, NOT HERE.

Like any good Sparks movie, things are only so good because they’re about to get very, very bad. Just as Landon is gushing to his mom (Daryl Hannah) that Jamie makes him want to be a better person, Jamie finally tells him her Sad Secret: She has leukemia. She was diagnosed two years ago and stopped responding to treatment. SHE TOLD YOU NOT TO FALL IN LOVE WITH HER.

Landon tries to get his estranged dad to help, but his dad is like, “Uhh, I’m a cardiologist?” and Landon’s like, “TYPICAL, DAD.” Eventually, though, Landon’s dad comes through and pays for Jamie to have at-home care instead of being stuck in a hospital after she takes a turn for the worse.

Landon continues to sweep Jamie off her feet. He has his mom teach him to dance (it’s a big deal, trust me), he builds Jamie a giant telescope to see a special comet, then he asks Jamie to do something for him—he asks her to MARRY HIM. He wants her to cross off #1 on her list: getting married in the same church her as her mom. BRB, crying.


So those two crazy teenagers get hitched, and then Jamie dies after a perfect summer full of love. Landon returns four years later to stare off into the water, but also to see Rev. Sullivan, who tells Landon that Jamie would be proud of him; he was her miracle after all. HER MIRACLE, YOU GUYS.

AND WHAT DID WE LEARN ABOUT LOVE IN CLASS TODAY? Love is like the wind: You can’t see it, but you can feel it. Also, love messes up your hair, is a sustainable energy source, holds kites in the air, and sometimes blows dirt into your eyes. Love is complex.



  • Are the two main characters from different worlds? Landon’s a cool kid: He has an old time-y car, drinks beer, one-straps his backpack, and doesn’t believe in anything, got it? Jamie sits at lunch table seven, and you know what that means! Oh, you don’t? It means she’s kind of weird and super-into angels.
  • Are there parents who don’t approve? Rev. Sullivan is anti-Landon until he, like the rest of us, cannot fight that raspy handsomeness that is Shane West.
  • Is there time spent palling around in some type of water-based location? Water is so serious in this movie: typically used for deep thought, once for hazing. I think after AWTR, water was like, “I’m actually a fun dude! Let’s show my depth. Pun intended!”
  • Does someone die? Jamie dies, but I’m mostly left wondering about the next girl Landon dates. She’d better have an awesome bucket list, because this is going to be a tough rebound. YEESH.
  • Is there a wise older person? Rev. Sullivan is at his most wise when he’s all, “Girl, that is not just a sweater.” Daryl Hannah is sometimes wise, but also basically tells her son that his dreams are impossible.
  • Do the men perform activities that require well-developed forearms? AWTR predates our realization that forearms are sexy, but you can see the trend emerging. Landon uses his forearms to define similar triangles, close the hoods of cars, build telescopes, and hold his dying girlfriend in the hospital. Shane West was braving the great unknown here. He’s a forearm trailblazer and should be lauded for his efforts.

Next week we review the original Sparks movie: Message in a Bottle. I’ve never seen it, but I’m sure it’ll be a real hoot!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
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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