Mandy Moore is best known these days for starring in the tearjerker family drama This Is Us, but back in the 2000s she was a pop singer just getting her start in acting. One of her earliest acting roles was as Jamie Sullivan in (fittingly) another tearjerker, the 2002 film A Walk to Remember. The love story between Jamie, the town pastor’s daughter, and Landon Carter (played by Shane West), the resident bad boy, is one for the ages.
To kids, the film is a heartbreaking tale of young love that ends in tragedy. To adults, well, it’s still pretty heartbreaking, but there is a lot more going on that only grown ups notice. If you haven’t seen A Walk to Remember since your own early years, you should give it another watch and look at it through more mature eyes. Here are some of the things that only adults will notice in A Walk to Remember.
Landon is a total jerk
Okay, we’re just going to say it: Landon is the worst. He hangs out with questionable friends who haze people, breaks the law, and is generally selfish and shallow. Sure, he gradually becomes a nicer person as the movie progresses, but for quite a bit of the film it’s uncertain whether he’s actually sincerely trying to be a better person or if he’s just a hormonal teen trying to get a girlfriend.
Look at the way he treats Jamie. She starts to warm up to him when he gives her a new sweater, but even this seemingly sweet gesture is actually pretty insulting considering that he and his friends regularly mock the sweater she usually wears. He also gets angry with her when she reveals she has leukemia and lets her run off in the middle of the night without following her. When Jamie comes to apologize for not telling him sooner, Landon doesn’t reassure her that he was the one being a jerk. Instead, he lets her apologize even though she didn’t owe him anything. Not exactly Prince Charming material.
How is giving someone the lead in the school play a punishment?
When Landon gets caught after the prank incident, it seems like he’s about to get his comeuppance. While he does get punished, the consequence the principal doles out is pretty mild. He has to help the janitorial staff after school, volunteer as a tutor, and participate in the school play. His punishment is to essentially socialize and get to know other people, while participating in extracurricular activities. While we can see the value in forcing Landon to expand his social horizons, it seems like he’s also getting away with doing something horrible.
Making things even stranger is the fact that Landon has zero acting experience, yet is given the lead role in the play against his wishes. Landon is a terrible actor and has to turn to Jamie for help with his lines. Not only does this punish kids who truly wanted the role, but it also seems like a lazy vehicle to get Jamie and Landon together.
Jamie’s play costume is totally out of character
A Walk to Remember was notable for the fact that it lacks the typical teen movie makeover scene where the geeky protagonist changes from awkward to dreamboat — all with the help of a haircut and contact lenses. The director, Adam Shankman, revealed that he deliberately avoided having Jamie wear glasses because he wanted to avoid the cliche transformation. Okay, Adam. Yes, Jamie wears comfy and often unfashionable clothing through the movie, but she still had a climactic makeover moment.
In the school play, Jamie plays a nightclub singer and is dressed to the nines complete with lots of makeup and curled hair. Her dress is uncharacteristically form-fitting and low cut enough that it would violate dress codes at many high schools. It seems implausible that Jamie, who prefers to dress modestly (even her wedding dress has sleeves!), would agree to wear it.
Landon (predictably) can’t take his eyes off her and is stunned at her transformation. We’re supposed to believe that he falls in love with her after being spellbound by her beautiful singing voice, but instead he falls victim to the teen movie trope of falling for a girl after she becomes conventionally attractive enough to date. Gross.
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