I grieve for Mandy Moore. The poor girl has been unfairly lumped in with lesser lights of girl pop stardom, barely staying above Willa Ford levels of obscurity. In a just world, Jessica Simpson’s idiocy would be punished by failure and Mandy Moore would be recognized for such gems as In My Pocket and Crush. I have an explanation for her relative lack of attention, though. Mandy Moore made "A Walk to Remember", one of the worst movies that’s ever been built.
There’s no shortage of truly horrible films featuring pop singers, of course. The flight I’m on as I write this is showing "The Fighting Temptations", a Beyonce Knowles vehicle featuring Cuba Gooding, Jr. I think the premise of this movie is that an actor wins an Oscar and then loses all his dignity starring in films with sled dogs and then Beyonce comes in to twist the knife of has-been-ness. And there’s singing!
But I come not to insult Beyonce’s film. I come to insult Mandy Moore‘s film. The last two times I’ve visited the home office in California, I’ve taken the opportunity to watch one film per trip which featured a popular female singer not known for her acting. It is to Ms. Moore’s great discredit that I can safely lump her first cinematic effort in with the other film I caught, Madonna’s "Who’s That Girl". In that particular abomination, Madonna plays an ex-con who drives a convertible with a giant lizard in a cage in the back seat. What the film lacks in plot, acting, direction, script, or production values, it almost makes up for in sheer inscrutability. It’s intriguing in the same way that watching an unsubtitled foreigh film can be.
Mandy Moore, though. Her first film was called "A Walk To Remember". I believe it was adapted from a novel, but as I don’t read fiction (it’s all a bunch of lies!) I can’t attest to the veracity of that statement. What I can confirm, though, is that this movie is a big huge pile of evil.
The basic premise of the film is a famliar one, in that Moore plays a shy, unassuming young woman who’s wildly unpopular at school, yet is still smitten with the good-looking popular bad boy in her class. Over the course of the film, her good Christian influence and unwavering love even in the face of his potential temptation by the cool slutty popular girl wins him over and he professes his love for her in the end.
The twist is in Moore’s character. Instead of shedding her modest, homely clothes and wowing ’em in the end by showing what a hottie she is without her glasses as she performs the lead single from the soundtrack to reluctant cheers from her astounded classmates, Moore stays ugly and then gets cancer and dies.
Oh, yeah, there might be spoilers in that paragraph above. Sorry ’bout that. It was in preparation for writing this review that I first started ruminating on the reasons that make people object so strongly to spoilers. Perhaps they are all just big Mandy Moore fans.
Seriously, though, what the fuck is up with this movie? Mandy is the ultra-christian here, the daughter of a preacher man and painfully god-fearing. In fact, the male lead actually marries her before her untimely demise, seeing that the only route to this woman’s pants is through her father’s church.
Perhaps most unforgivably, the movie features zero chirpy pop melodies being sung by its female lead. I would suppose that sort of levity would ruin the hardcore "I came here to cry!" tone being set by the script, but don’t these young girls still have "Titanic" on DVD to fit that need?
Now, I’m not expecting "8 Mile" out of Mandy, but I’m hoping for some improvement. I fear it will be with a heavy heart and lowered expectations that I venture out to see "Chasing Liberty" at some point in the near future.