Once in a while, I'm game for a good dose of sappy romance, and what more than one by Nicholas Sparks, who have had a number of his books, from Message in a Bottle to Dear John all being translated from page to screen. But I guess too much of anything rarely work wonders, even if you throw big name stars in the film to shore up and try and mask all the cliches, and frankly off the heels of Dear John, The Last Song just feels like the neglected twin clamouring hard for attention.
Miley Cyrus finally sheds her Hannah Montana persona for the big screen, and it's about time she takes on a role without putting on that blonde wig, or break out into song (although she does for a while here when singing off a few phrases of Maroon 5's She Will Be Loved) and dance. And when I say being too close to Dear John, I mean it through her character Ronnie Miller (Miley Cyrus) being just about the xeroxed copy of Channing Tatum's John Tyree, being taciturn and mean toward the father. But of course with the promise of a budding romantic relationship, all that is about to change, doesn't it always?
Enter Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth) as the car technician (some brains) / volleyball player (some topless brawn) / aquarium volunteer (with that heart of gold) / tycoon of a rich son (always helps), whose initial arrogance provided that gung-ho spirit in trying to woo Ms Grumpy, before slowly melting away to reveal surprise after surprise that he's Mr Perfect through his patience and troubled backstory that involves an unhappy household. But that aside, boy and girl spend plenty of time frolicking in the sand, sea, and aquarium even, before jealous parties and ex-girlfriends come spoil everything so that it's not as smooth sailing as we'd like to think.
Being in love probably means becoming a better person, and through that comes the narrative opportunity for Ronnie to bond with her father Steve (Greg Kinnear), who's spending a lot of time with son Jonah (Bobby Coleman) given her daughter's new found relationship and the trouble in connecting with her nasty demeanour slowly unravelled by Will. I found this part about reconnecting with a loved one a lot more powerful than the romantic one, which in part is thanks to Kinnear's superior performance over Liam Hemsworth, who;s like a cross between Keanu Reeves and Hayden Christensen.
For all the real life romance between Cyrus and Hemsworth that came out from this film, I can't deny that it's likely curiosity more than anything else that would put bums on seats, wondering if kisses shown were for reel or for real (I'm inclined to think the latter from what's seen in the film). But the one thing that will irritate, though Twilight fans will come to adore, is the ever-flipping mood swings that Ronnie will have for Will. Oh someone said something bad about you, I'm breaking up with you. Oh wait a minute, your father owns a huge mansion and you're that pained son, I'm so sympathizing with you here's some loving. And it goes on a wash-rinse-repeat cycle. One scene causes problems, the next one patches things back up, and seriously, it's fickle-mindedness and confusion of the highest order.
Trust Nicholas Sparks to include into his story more than just the notion of romantic love, and complete with little saccharine sweet things such as sea-turtle hatching, and to break your heart with some tragedy as always. If it's a card to send, you'll likely make it Hallmark, and if a romantic story, you can rely on a NIcholas Sparks written film if only you can stand repetitive thematic cliches getting thrown at you, constantly. It's not perfect, just what you'd come to expect. For once, I'd beg Miley Cyrus to break out into song and dance to shake things up.