I spent the first 20 minutes of Dear John rolling my eyes so hard I nearly knocked out my contacts. I spent the next 60 with mascara running shamelessly down my face (thank god this is a press screening), feeling full-body shivers of misplaced patriotism, extreme romanticism, and empathy for characters who don’t really exist. (I don’t care what you say, Nicholas Sparks.) Beginning a year before 9/11, and following two characters through the next chapters of their young lives, Dear John tells the story of John (Channing Tatum), a soldier on leave in North Carolina. He meets Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) on the beach after her purse gets knocked off the pier into the ocean. He rescues it, she invites him to a BBQ, and romance ensues. They quickly become close, Savannah instantly connecting to John’s reticent father, and John to her family friend Tim and his autistic son. They write letters during a year apart, John travelling all over, to undisclosed locations, with the army, and Savannah away at college-but things get complicated after the 9/11 attacks, when John’s entire company decides to re-enlist. This was no Notebook-style period piece, Dear John is full-blown chick flick, with vague overtones of GoMerica propaganda mixed in. But Channing Tatum is handsome, and Amanda Seyfried looks sexy in the rain. Like all Nicholas Sparks-based scripts, there’s some illness, some death, tons of dramz, and a good healthy dose of H2O-drenched making out. This one winds its way around a myriad of twists and turns, and not all of them are satisfying, but you’ll be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what the hell is going to happen next (unless you read the book, that is.) Sparks is the master of the epic love story, and Dear John is no exception.