Shane West, Mandy Moore, ...
Credit: A Walk to Remember: Kent Eanes

Preteen girls weep extravagantly during A Walk to Remember. And I am well aware that this teen-angel sob-athon, adapted from a sugar-frosted novel by Nicholas Sparks, is meant hook, line, and soundtrack CD for them, not for me and my harder-shelled ilk.

But I ask you: What spiritual junk food are adolescent moviegoers being fed in the parable of a girl (Mandy Moore) so modestly dressed and so devout (in a potato-shaped, Christian-lite kind of way) that she reforms the wild ways of a popular boy (Shane West) who falls in love with her, which is his tough luck because she’s got a secret, which I won’t reveal except to wail, ”Heck, why must saints die young?”

How are teens supposed to develop their God-given artistic talents after they’ve sucked down a production styled after late-night cable ads for gospel tunes (in which the camera pans up to the sun), love-song compilations (pan to the stars), and laxatives (pan to the moon)? When television offers this target audience such an admirable selection of nonconformist role models no less virtuous but far less insipid (Daria, come back!), why settle for the unexceptional charms of Miss Moore, or the cutout-doll dimensions of Mr. West?

Just because ”A Walk to Remember” is shrewd enough to activate girlish tear ducts doesn’t mean it’s good enough for our girls. They’re willing to buy tickets; why not honor their wits as well as their wallets?

A Walk to Remember
  • Movie
  • 101 minutes