Miley Cyrus is displaced from New York to spend the summer by the sea in Georgia with estranged father Greg Kinnear. While younger brother Bobby Coleman thinks the set-up is just keen (especially former composer dad’s work restoring the stain glass windows of a burned church), Cyrus stomps around in full Resentful Teenage Girl mode, until two things make her begin to open up: the need to protect a nest of sea turtles, and the attentions of the impossibly hunky Liam Hemsworth. Since this is a Nicholas Sparks story, true love and happiness will have to run the gauntlet of class snobbery, Disturbing Revelations ™, and the inevitable Third Act Fatal Illness That Brings Out The Best In Everyone (also a registered trademark).
Oh dear, am I waxing cynical? I suppose I am. Fans of Cyrus and Sparks will, of course, see this no matter what, and will probably get what they’re hoping for. For everyone else, well, Kinnear does what he can, and should be congratulated for making his scenes as watchable as they are. But otherwise, we have a charmless lead, and a script so hamfisted, so filled with contrivances as predictable as they are overblown, that the film would be hilarious if it weren’t so dull.
Doing its level best to keep viewers over the age of 12 awake is the picture, which is admittedly a very pretty one. The colours pop, the contrasts are strong, the flesh tones are excellent, and the blacks are deep and true. Though many scenes take place at night or in dimly lit locales, the picture is never murky, but always crystal clear. Grain and edge enhancement are non-existent. My comments here and with regards to the audio are, of course, based on the Blu-Ray.
Though the picture quality is near-perfect, the audio is a bit more workmanlike. The score has been given a terrific mix, and uses all speakers to full advantage. Dialogue is utterly without distortions. So far, so good. But the sound effects are underwhelming. Though there are some nice things done in the surround department with the sound of a breeze through the sand and grasses, a scene at an amusement fair, which should have had a big crowd sound, is disappointingly flat, with very little by way of surround presence.
Commentary Track: Director Julie Anne Robinson is joined by co-producer Jennifer Gibgot here. Their talk is primarily of the nuts-and-bolts variety – how this scene was shot, what difficulties were encountered, and so on.
Alternate Opening Scene: (1:55) A different take on the church fire sequence that starts the movie, with optional commentary from Robinson.
Deleted Scenes: (7:09) Again with optional commentary from Robinson. These and the alternate opening are exclusive to the Blu-Ray, and are such a minor addition (barely ten minutes) that I can think of no reason why they are not on the included DVD as well.
Set Tour with Bobby Colman: (5:06) Don’t watch this expecting to learn anything much. It’s a tongue-in-cheek exercise in fluff, but oh look: there’s So You Think You Can Dance‘s Adam Shankman away from the judging table (he’s the other producer on the film).
“When I Look At You”: (4:16) Music video of the Cyrus song.
The Making of the Music Video: (4:20) Isn’t that promotion for promotion?
Strictly for the converted. For the unwashed, it’s an ordeal.