Nicholas Sparks' latest adaptation staring Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth and Greg Kinnear...
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Nicholas Sparks continues to write books with Hollywood continues to adapt to film. Be it A Walk to Remember, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, or (my favorite) The Notebook, his works of romantic drama continue to make women swoon and even the toughest of men tear up (just a little). Enter The Last Song, the latest of the author's adaptations to hit home video. Starring Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth and Greg Kinnear, the film tells a touching, dramatic teen-agnst romance story focusing on one girl's struggles with growing up, family life and love.
First things first, I've never been a fan of Miley Cyrus. It's nothing personal, I just can't wrap my head around why she's so popular. Sure, she's got talent, sure she can sing, and sure, she's got an alter-ego that makes more money than most of us ever will (I wish I had an alter-ego like that!) but I still can't seem to understand the attraction. Of course, I'm neither an adolescent boy with raging hormones nor a teenage girl with self-esteem issues...
Anyhow, Cyrus stars as Ronnie, a teenage girl who's folks have split and who's forced to live with her dad (Kinnear) for the summer at his lake house. A talented pianist with a God-given gift for music, Ronnie is the epitome of teen angst; she's got a bad attitude, she's angry at the world, and her little brother Jonah (played brilliantly by Bobby Coleman) is a pain in the neck. Worst of all, she's falling for a local guy, Will (Liam Hemsworth) who she'll just have to leave when the summer is over. Doesn't life just stink?!?
Thankfully, with Will in her life, the anger towards her father begins to dwindle. However, her father keeps a secret that will further alter her attitude and make her understand why anger is a useless emotion in the face of love.
Now that my sappy description of the film is out of the way, I have to say The Last Song - like so many teen-angst, romantic films - doesn't fully engage the audience as it should. Due to the somewhat lack-luster acting and contrived script (written by original book scribe Sparks and Jeff Van Wie), the dialogue and emotions it portrays seems less than authentic. That's not saying you won't tear up a bit, but you may feel as if your tears have been stolen or coaxed out instead of genuinely shed. And that's not to say the film isn't worth watching. Fans of other Sparks films will no doubt appreciate The Last Song as will fans of teen dramas and romances.
Technically, the video transfer if beautifully done with colors bright and bold and lines tight and clear. While maybe not the best hi-def transfer, they're definitely nothing worth complaining about here. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track gives plenty of love to the music, while keeping the dialogue easy to understand and hear.
As for special features, the disc includes a few, but nothing casual fans will find necessary to watch. Director Julie Anne Robinson and producer Jennifer Gibgot give an audio commentary that's solid, but will find most listeners either confused, bored, or lost fairly quickly. Additionally, there are five "Deleted Scenes" and an "Alternate Opening." Other featurettes include a set tour with the younger brother (actor Bobby Coleman), Miley Cyrus' "When I Look at You" music video and a "Making of the Music Video" short. Finally, an outtake is also included. Again, nothing really worth watching multiple times and most casual fans probably won't watch them once.
What can I say? It's Nicolas Sparks, it jerks at your tear ducts, plays with your emotions, and makes you feel like you've been emotionally violated...and, oddly, at the same time you're thankful for the experience.
While not the best film adaptation of the author's work, The Last Song is a solid addition to the Sparks film library. Cyrus has great potential as a mainstream Hollywood actress (if she could just ditch that Hannah Montana gig and loose some of the stiffness) and the script, while somewhat contrived, delivers plenty of emotional highs and lows. As previously stated, teens as well as romance and drama fans will appreciate this newly released home video while those looking for a good cry might want to give it a try as well.
The Last Song is available on Blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley