Many critics hated the film I am about to review. I didn’t hate it but I agree that it isn’t up the standard we expect from a story written by popular author Nicholas Sparks.
“The Last Song” is about a father and the damage done to his relationship with his children when he and his wife divorce. Greg Kinnear plays Steve Miller, a multi-talented artist and musician. Kelly Preston plays his wife Kim.
Steve’s daughter, Veronica, is the child with whom he has lost the most connection. She is played by teen queen Miley Cyrus. Bobby Coleman plays his son, Jonah.
In order to force her daughter to reconnect with their dad, Kim arranges for them to spend the summer with him. It’s a plan that Ronnie (Cyrus) despises and she goes out of her way to make certain her dad knows it.
It is evident that Ronnie is a fish out of water in the small beach hamlet. Her semi-goth clothing and snarky attitude don’t set well with the local kids her age. Consequently, she only manages to make friends with another outcast ‘” Blaze ‘” played by Carly Chaikan.
When Blaze’s boyfriend makes a play for Ronnie; however, even that relationship is damaged. That leaves Ronnie on her own until Will, played by Liam Hemsworth, finally manages to break through her many barriers.
Before long, the two teens are inseparable and Ronnie is beginning to act like a human being. Slowly, but surely, she lets her father into her heart and discovers that she feels whole once again.
The problem with this film is that there are too many side stories going on at the same time. First, there is burning of a local church, which it turns out the townspeople blame on Steve.
That vehicle is necessary in order to explain why Steve is making a stained glass window. That becomes the vehicle by which he and Jonah reconnect because it bonds Steve and his son together as he teaches Jonah the craft.
Another side story is the abuse that Blaze takes from her boyfriend Scott (played by Hallock Beals). It is thrown in to try to bring a little heart to Ronnie’s character but it is so poorly developed that it seems out of place in the film.
Still another plot is Ronnie’s rebellion, which is shown in the form of stealing. She was caught doing that in New York and Blaze’s jealousy sparks what appears to be another incident in Georgia. Because this plot isn’t developed at all, it seems too contrived.
Then there is the fact that Will turns out to be from a wealthy family. They, of course, don’t like his new girlfriend and want their son away from her as quickly as possible. There’s nothing new there and it actually hurts the film rather than helps it.
Another plot has Ronnie saving a nest of sea turtles from raccoons. This, once again, is meant to sell the audience on the innate goodness of an otherwise quasi-likeable character. At lest this side story fits in with Ronnie and Will’s burgeoning relationship.
Then there is Ronnie’s musical talent. She has stopped playing the piano and thrown away her scholarship to Julliard in an attempt to punish her father. Music was what once connected them as father and daughter and Ronnie feels, by abondoing it, she is returning the hurt her father made her suffer when he left her.
Lastly, is a secret being held by Steve. When it comes out it explains some things to his children but leaves a lot more unanswered questions.
All of this mishmash supposedly fits together. Some of it does but much just seems thrown together for dramatic effect. In any case, it is too much for such a short film; allowing almost nothing to be fully developed.
There is a rumor that Sparks wrote the role of Ronnie for Cyrus to play. If he did, it was a mistake. While Miley has a lot going for her, pulling off a character with as many layers as this one just isn’t one of them.
In the beginning, her character is too unlikable. When the transformation of Ronnie does happen, its a bit too quickly. It isn’t quite believable.
Given a few more years of seasoning, Cyrus might be able to play a character like Ronnie. However, now just wasn’t the right time for her to give it a try. She’s not bad, mind you. There were just a lot of other actresses who might have done it better.
Hemsworth is likeable as Will but he comes across as a bit too much of a good thing. Even his supposedly sordid secret is watered down and lackluster.
Kinnear is good as the father who wants to reconnect with his children. Although his role isn’t huge in the film, he manages to make his mark.
The real star is little Jonah (Coleman). He steals almost every scene in which he is featured, no matter who is playing opposite him.
The screenplay written by Sparks and Jeff Van Wie is too contrived. It is certainly not something one would expect from the author who was responsible for one of the greatest love stories of all time ‘” “The Notebook”. It simply isn’t worthy of this man’s massive writing talent.
Director Julie Anne Robinson undoubtedly tried to salvage what she could out of the ashes of this film. But the multitude of puzzle pieces being forced together made it a difficult task at best.
I enjoyed watching the film the first time. Would I watch it again? Maybe. Is it a good film? Not quite but it is nonetheless an enjoyable one in spite of itself.
With all that is wrong with it, it still has something indefinable that draws you in and holds onto you. You will either love it or hate it. I doubt there will be much in between.
I give “The Last Song” 2.5 out of five stars.
RATING SCALE USED:
0 = A stinker. Don’t waste the money!
1 = Bad. Rent it at your own risk.
2 = Below average. See only if you have time to kill.
2.5 = Average. A toss up.
3 = Good. Worth a looksee.
3.5 = Very Good. I recommend it.
4 = Excellent. Don’t miss it!
4.5 = Outstanding. What are you waiting for?
5 = Destined to become a classic. You will be sorry if you don’t see it.