"The Last Song" Movie Review (2010)

4/03/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"The Last Song"

Directed by Julie Anne Robinson, Written by Nicholas Sparks and Jeff Van Wie, 107 Minutes, Rated PG

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

There's no use beating around the bush anymore when it comes to Nicholas Sparks. A handful of his teen romance novels have been made into films at this point, "The Last Song" being the latest and actually the second of 2010, and it's pretty clear by now that the man is simply a master manipulator. There is absolutely no depth or emotional truth to his work, but he's found the perfect formula for bringing in the bucks. Unlikely teen romance + character with tragic disease = monetary powerhouse. It hasn't failed Sparks yet, so why stop? That seems to be his mindset, at least. So that leads us to "The Last Song," another typical Sparks romance with all the same elements plugged into the equation with new names and faces.

The film tells the story of Ronnie Miller (Miley Cyrus), a typically angry 17-year-old who's sent along with her little brother, Jonah (Bobby Coleman), to live with their estranged father, Steve (Greg Kinnear), for the summer, presumably so that he can reconnect with them before they go on with their lives and forget him. Ronnie's pretty bitter about the whole thing, as she hates her father for abandoning the family after he and her mother divorced. A former piano prodigy, she gave up music after he left and despite being accepted to Juilliard, she doesn't plan on going to college. The audience knows she's rebellious because she has piercings and wears semi-dark clothing. This is about as far as Sparks goes when it comes to character development.

Of course, Ronnie meets a handsome guy her age while hanging around town. This is Will (Liam Hemsworth), who works random jobs around town and hangs out on the beach playing volleyball when he's not brooding about and keeping secrets about his tragic past. He and Ronnie hit it off, as one would expect, and their summer fling will, like, totally change her life forever. She also starts to make up with her dad as they bond over their love for music. One mustn't forget that this is a Miley Cyrus film produced by Disney, so there was no chance we'd go a whole two hours without hearing her music.

Pardon the cynicism, but if this were a different film based on a different novel by a different author, I might buy it. Nicholas Sparks simply doesn't bring anything interesting to the table when it comes to romance. It's almost as if he had some sort of fling at a young age and he's so unable to let it go that he keeps on rehashing the story over and over again in slightly different settings. And someone he knew had cancer and they died while he was young. That, or he knows how easily people will buy into these stories and he exploits the situations for his own gain. Really, that's all these stories are--exploitation. Sparks is like a Marquis de Sade for the romance generation.

For what it is, "The Last Song" is far from intolerable. Kinnear gives a generally good performance as Ronnie and Jonah's father and the rest of the performances are adequate. All but Cyrus, I suppose, whose range consists of "mopey" and "repugnance." Her character is a generally unlikable bleeding heart type, and while Cyrus plays her as such, she just doesn't bring anything more to an already undemanding role. That wasn't the case with the previous 2010 Sparks film, "Dear John," which had far better performances, but was admittedly a far worse film in most other cases.

One more note--this is the directorial debut of Julie Anne Robinson. She does middling work here, and the countless musical montages and shots of sunny summer beach parties don't really demand much mastery of the craft anyway.

As always, I should include here the qualifier that those who are interested in generally brainless romantic fluff like this (say, for instance, if you liked "Dear John"), then you will very likely enjoy this. The film is simple. It's quick. It will probably go down precisely as you expect it. It'll provide some laughs, some tears, and some swoons, and then you can go about your day. Keep in mind, though, that Nicholas Sparks will be sitting in his multi-million dollar house laughing the night away and lighting Cuban cigars with flaming hundred dollar bills because you saw this instead of "Clash of the Titans," or even "Remember Me," a film of similar goals that succeeds on far more levels.

Grade: D

View the trailer for "The Last Song" below.  What did you think of the movie?

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