After a prank goes horribly wrong, almost resulting in the death of another student, high school bad boy Landon (Shane West, doing his best impression of Christian Slater channelling Charlie Sheen), is condemned not to jail, or to community service, but to act in the school play. In this new environment, he becomes more and more acutely aware of self-assured preacher’s daughter Jamie (Mandy Moore). Opposites attract, hard lessons are learned, and redemption is handed out all round. Call it t…e Anti-Heathers. Also starring in what is essentially a slickly photographed after-school special (with neon-bright Moral Lessons) is Daryl Hannah as Landon’s mom, almost unrecognizable as a brunette.
Mandy Moore fans will be pleased with the how the music sounds. Its mix is good, and dominates at the surround level. The sound effects are much less in evidence — in fact, I was barely aware of them at all, so not much by way of environment. Though not exactly impressive in its impact, the soundtrack is nonetheless very clear.
The picture is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image is very sharp, but the colours and contrast could be better. The night scenes are frequently overbright, with contrasts washing out into a uniform gray. Some of the day shots also fade into pastel, and Moore’s skin tone is also frequently on the gray end of the scale.
The menu is still, though its main page is scored. There are two commentary tracks. The first is by Shane West, Mandy Moore and director Adam Shankman, and is a bit chaotic, with the participants often talking over each other and speaking with varying degrees of articulateness. The second track, by novelist Nicholas Sparks and screenwriter Karen Janszen, is considerably better, being more coherent and informative. Sparks and Janszen have much to say, obviously, about the process of adaptation, but also discuss the making of the film itself. There are a lot of the usual commentary platitudes, with everyone going on about how great everyone and everything was. Also on offer is Moore’s video for “Cry” and the theatrical trailer.
Competently put together, but thoroughly devoid of surprise. Strictly for fans of the book.
Special Features List
- Commentary by Shane West, Mandy Moore and Adam Shankman
- Commentary by Nicholas Sparks and Karen Janszen
- Mandy Moore Video — “Cry”
- Theatrical Trailer