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Dear John

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Dear John Movie Poster Image
Teens will swoon for far-fetched, syrupy romance.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 108 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 49 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie has several positive messages. Savannah doesn't judge John for being less wealthy or having a spotty past. John selflessly volunteers to re-enlist in the Army despite the fact it will keep him and Savannah away from each other. Savannah makes an enormous sacrifice to help others in need. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Savannah and John are both admirable characters. Savannah spends the bulk of her spring break doing charitable work. She also graciously spends time with her neighbor's autistic son and John's autistic father. John is brave and loyal and takes his duty to his country seriously, extending his enlistment even though he could have been spending time with Savannah instead.


John is shot while deployed in the Middle East; another soldier is killed. There are a few war scenes, but nothing is too graphic or bloody. John angrily punches a couple of men, giving one a black eye.


Flirting turns to passionate kissing and one non-graphic love scene (only bare shoulders and backs are shown).


A few uses of "s--t," plus exclamations such as "hell," "ass," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "Jesus," and "oh my God."


Chevrolet and Volkswagen, but otherwise no overt product placement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink beer at a beach party and wine at dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Channing Tatum/Amanda Seyfried romantic drama based on Nicholas Sparks' best-selling novel includes some non-graphic sexuality and wartime violence (including one scene in which two soldiers are shot) but is otherwise a pretty tame romance that's age appropriate for teens. The lead couple (who are college-age when they meet) share many intense kisses and spend one night together, but there's no nudity. Language includes a few uses of "s--t" and some exclamations like "oh my God." Two supporting characters -- one young and one adult -- are autistic, and their conditions are discussed several times. Positive messages include the importance of service and the many ways that people can help others in need.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKC4 August 7, 2010

Nearly clean romance

A few scenes of passionate making out and leading to sex. A couple scenes with bare back/side of lead female. One scene lead female shown in bra. Male lead w... Continue reading
Adult Written byKneese November 27, 2015


The beginning was confusing but the middle was sad throughout the movie and had romance difficulties at the end. BUT OVER ALL IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Teen, 15 years old Written byTHE MOVIE MAN March 7, 2010

Movie Man on Dear John

Dear John is absolouly a movie for a date night. Some people will love it and cry at the end but some people might get a little bored. Younger teens might not f... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 29, 2010

A Lovey-Dovey Romance

Dear John is one of the romance movies that can make boys say "yuck!" To be honest that is kind of true. There are many kissing scenes including where... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on Nicholas Sparks' best-selling novel, DEAR JOHN follows college student Savannah (Amanda Seyfried), who meets special ops soldier John (Channing Tatum) while visiting her family's Charleston beach house for spring break. After they "meet cute" (he jumps into the ocean to rescue her purse), they quickly become inseparable and fall in love after just two weeks. When John is redeployed for his final year of service, the two write dozens of letters to each other. But in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, John breaks the news to Savannah that his entire unit is voluntarily extending their enlistment -- thereby postponing his reunion with her for another two years. But as time marches forward, John notices that Savannah's letters have slowed. ...

Is it any good?

Tatum and Seyfried manage to conjure a comfortable chemistry, but their characters are simply too good to seem real. Seyfried's Savannah is selfless to a fault, and her willingness to help others even at the expense of her own happiness is over the top. Anyone familiar with Sparks' novels (or the many movies based on them) knows that there are always several obstacles to keep his star-crossed lovers apart, and Dear John is no exception; but the "twist" here is so far-fetched that it borders on infuriating.

Still, those looking for a weepy love story may forgive that Dear John stops making sense halfway through. Director Lasse Hallstrom knows how to manipulate audiences into crying for his characters, and there's plenty of Kleenex-worthy material toward the movie's end. One subplot that's genuinely affecting is John's relationship with his autistic father (Richard Jenkins); one of the movie's most touching scenes is when John reads his hospitalized father a letter. While Dear John ranks nowhere near the scorching romance that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams created in The Notebook, it's slightly better than several other bland films based on Sparks' books.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Savannah and John's romance. Does it seem believable? How does it compare to real-life teen relationships?

  • Do Savannah's choices resonate with you? What do you think about her decision to put her love for John second to her sense of obligation to others?

Movie details

For kids who love romance and drama

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