The Last Song (August 17/10)
Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song follows moody teenager Ronnie Miller (Miley Cyrus) as she and her young brother (Bobby Coleman's Jonah) arrive at their father's (Greg Kinner's Steve) beachfront home for the summer - with Ronnie's disgust for her temporary digs evaporating after she meets (and falls for) a hunky local named Will (Liam Hemsworth).
There's little doubt that The Last Song primarily comes off as a fairly typical Nicholas Sparks adaptation, as the movie boasts virtually all of the attributes that one has come to expect from the popular writer's works - including an idealized romance between unlikely protagonists and a tragedy that inevitably shakes up the various characters' lives. And although Cyrus' less-than-competent work does take some getting used to - she is, unfortunately, more Madonna than Jennifer Lopez in terms of her acting abilities - The Last Song ultimately proves to be a far more engaging piece of work than the viewer might've initially suspected.
The ongoing emphasis on needless subplots and asides is rather unfortunate, admittedly, and one can't help but wonder why a simple summertime romance story has been bogged down with so many extraneous elements. It's worth noting that such concerns become moot once The Last Song morphs into a full-fledged tearjerker, as the film boasts a poignant final half hour that basically compensates for the unevenness of that which preceded it - with Kinnear's expectedly masterful performance effectively perpetuating the third act's surprisingly affecting atmosphere.
The final result is a consistently watchable endeavor that's right in line with other adaptations of Sparks' books, with Cyrus' pervasively lackluster performance ultimately standing as the movie's one overtly underwhelming attribute (although, to be fair, the actress' palpable chemistry with Hemsworth goes a long way towards offsetting her lack of talent).