Why put Richard Jenkins in a movie if this is what you're going to do with him? In Dear John Jenkins plays John's father, an autistic coin collector who is afraid of going out of the house. He gets about three scenes, which I have a hard time remembering because I spent them hoping that he got a big paycheck. As for the rest of the film, it's pretty standard fare, filled with generic emotion designed to jerk tears from lonely women.
There is nothing too aggressively bad about Dear John, but there is also nothing remarkable about it. It has no real ambition to be anything more than typical. It's adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel, the man responsible for such gems as A Walk to Remember and Nights in Rodanthe as well as 2004's only-watchable-because-it-has-Rachel-McAdams-and Ryan-Gosling-in-it-but-even-still-not-really-that-great The Notebook. The plot is very similar to The Notebook: Guy falls in love with girl, goes away for a while and in the meantime the girl settle down with another guy, only to break the heart of the original guy when he returns home. But the difference between the two films is that this one doesn't have two great actors to carry it above it's painful schmaltziness. Despite a good performance in last year's extremely underrated Fighting, I'm still not sold on Channing Tatum, who just looks like he's trying to act. In this he reminds me a bit of Hayden Christiansen in Attack of the Clones, kind of wooden, and a little whiny, like he's always trying to cry but can't find the tears. Or maybe we can just blame it on what he is given to work with.
The film is directed by the talented Lasse Halstrom, but you wouldn't know it because it has absolutely no style. Aside from a one minute montage in which we see the process of a letter being sent home from a soldier in Iraq, there is nothing interesting at all going on visually, so all we are left with when it is over is the thought of what else we could have done with two hours and seven bucks.