Things only adults notice in A Walk to Remember

Mandy Moore is best known these days for starring in the tearjerker family drama This Is Us, but back in the 2000s she was a pop singer just getting her start in acting. One of her earliest acting roles was as Jamie Sullivan in (fittingly) another tearjerker, the 2002 film A Walk to Remember. The love story between Jamie, the town pastor's daughter, and Landon Carter (played by Shane West), the resident bad boy, is one for the ages.

To kids, the film is a heartbreaking tale of young love that ends in tragedy. To adults, well, it's still pretty heartbreaking, but there is a lot more going on that only grown ups notice. If you haven't seen A Walk to Remember since your own early years, you should give it another watch and look at it through more mature eyes. Here are some of the things that only adults will notice in A Walk to Remember.

Landon is a total jerk

Okay, we're just going to say it: Landon is the worst. He hangs out with questionable friends who haze people, breaks the law, and is generally selfish and shallow. Sure, he gradually becomes a nicer person as the movie progresses, but for quite a bit of the film it's uncertain whether he's actually sincerely trying to be a better person or if he's just a hormonal teen trying to get a girlfriend.

Look at the way he treats Jamie. She starts to warm up to him when he gives her a new sweater, but even this seemingly sweet gesture is actually pretty insulting considering that he and his friends regularly mock the sweater she usually wears. He also gets angry with her when she reveals she has leukemia and lets her run off in the middle of the night without following her. When Jamie comes to apologize for not telling him sooner, Landon doesn't reassure her that he was the one being a jerk. Instead, he lets her apologize even though she didn't owe him anything. Not exactly Prince Charming material.

How is giving someone the lead in the school play a punishment?

When Landon gets caught after the prank incident, it seems like he's about to get his comeuppance. While he does get punished, the consequence the principal doles out is pretty mild. He has to help the janitorial staff after school, volunteer as a tutor, and participate in the school play. His punishment is to essentially socialize and get to know other people, while participating in extracurricular activities. While we can see the value in forcing Landon to expand his social horizons, it seems like he's also getting away with doing something horrible. 

Making things even stranger is the fact that Landon has zero acting experience, yet is given the lead role in the play against his wishes. Landon is a terrible actor and has to turn to Jamie for help with his lines. Not only does this punish kids who truly wanted the role, but it also seems like a lazy vehicle to get Jamie and Landon together. 

Jamie's play costume is totally out of character

A Walk to Remember was notable for the fact that it lacks the typical teen movie makeover scene where the geeky protagonist changes from awkward to dreamboat — all with the help of a haircut and contact lenses. The director, Adam Shankman, revealed that he deliberately avoided having Jamie wear glasses because he wanted to avoid the cliche transformation. Okay, Adam. Yes, Jamie wears comfy and often unfashionable clothing through the movie, but she still had a climactic makeover moment. 

In the school play, Jamie plays a nightclub singer and is dressed to the nines complete with lots of makeup and curled hair. Her dress is uncharacteristically form-fitting and low cut enough that it would violate dress codes at many high schools. It seems implausible that Jamie, who prefers to dress modestly (even her wedding dress has sleeves!), would agree to wear it.

Landon (predictably) can't take his eyes off her and is stunned at her transformation. We're supposed to believe that he falls in love with her after being spellbound by her beautiful singing voice, but instead he falls victim to the teen movie trope of falling for a girl after she becomes conventionally attractive enough to date. Gross. 

Why doesn't anyone say something about the fact that Landon assaulted Jamie on stage?!

Landon is so captivated by Jamie's song and her makeover that, at the end of the song, he can't resist leaning in for a kiss. This would be sweet if it weren't for the fact that the kiss wasn't actually in the play's script and Jamie wasn't prepared for it. Given the fact that Jamie largely keeps to herself and isn't allowed to date at the beginning of the film, it's even likely that this was her first kiss ever.

Unfortunately, too many young people (and even some adults) won't recognize the unwanted kiss for the sexual assault that it is. Part of this is because movies like A Walk to Remember portray stolen kisses as romantic. In reality, however, kissing Jamie without her consent constitutes a major violation of her autonomy. You'd think that someone would call Landon out on this. Jamie looks pretty taken aback after the kiss, but instead of saying something she keeps her mouth shut — something victims of sexual assault and harassment are all too familiar with.

This is some really bad Photoshop

Jamie isn't exactly the most popular girl in school. Landon's group of friends regularly bully her, and their cruelty escalates after Landon kisses her on stage. They edit her face onto a picture of a woman in a bikini, and put the image onto flyers they distribute around the school. Jamie is distraught and humiliated, prompting Landon to defend her and marking a turning point in their relationship.

While it's understandable that Jamie was upset by the flyer and the continuous harassment by her peers, it's hard not to notice just how awful that Photoshop job is. The image of Jamie's face is in black and white while the body she's edited onto is in color. It's also not sized to scale. Maybe this was an example of passable photo editing from a high school student in the days of dial-up internet, but to a modern day adult it just looks comically bad. Surely no one thought this looked realistic, right? Either way, the malicious intent behind it clearly hurtful, and we get that.

How is it that so few people in this southern town have a southern accent?

A Walk to Remember takes place in North Carolina, a Southern state. Landon's dad has a heavy Southern drawl, as does Jamie's dad, but that's about it for Southern accents in this movie. While the Southern accent (along with other regional accents) is slowly disappearing, especially in larger cities, people living in smaller towns like the one the film is set in still sound pretty Southern. This is especially true for older generations, which explains why the dads of the movie have that drawl.

But what about the rest of the people in town? Why don't any of the kids have accents? We might be able to argue that Landon picked up his mom's decidedly non-Southern accent — that's what he heard the most growing up since his parents don't live together. But Jamie should at least have a little bit of a twang. 

How is Jamie's dad okay with her staying out all night?

When Landon and Jamie meet up for a clandestine date at the cemetery, Landon reveals that he wants to stay out all night. Jamie seems okay with this (what teenage girl isn't tempted to break curfew at least once?) but it seems uncharacteristic of her dad to allow this. Jamie's dad is (understandably) protective and likes to keep a close eye on his daughter. He doesn't even approve of her relationship with Landon at its start, and doesn't know that she's with him at the cemetery. As far as Jamie's dad is concerned, his terminally ill daughter is out all night completely by herself with no way of contacting him if she needs anything.

Which brings us to another point: why doesn't Jamie have a cell phone? You'd think that a cell phone would be something Jamie's dad would invest in so that she can call him in case of a medical emergency. At the very least you'd expect her to have a pager, but there's no evidence that she even has one of those.

Why did their parents agree to this marriage?

There's no denying that Landon's proposal to Jamie is one of the most heartbreaking moments in cinematic history. Not only is he expressing his love for her, but he is also making one of her most cherished dreams come true: to get married in the church her mother grew up attending. The scene is a heart wrenching one because you know Jamie will be spending the rest of her all-too-short life with the man she loves — but what happens to Landon after his wife passes away?

It's kind of understandable that Jamie's dad would be on board with the marriage because he wants his daughter's final days to be happy ones, but you'd think there'd be at least some pushback from Landon's parents. Losing your first love is devastating enough even without a ring. You'd think that his parents would try to stop the marriage, if only to spare him the pain of being a teenage widower.

Most of Landon's friends are still pretty terrible

In the wedding scene, Landon's friends look happy to see him marry the woman he loves. Even Dean is wearing a face-splitting grin as Jamie walks down the aisle. It's a touching moment — or, it would be if we could forget just how awful his friends are. Sure, Jamie is all about forgiveness and redemption, but how is Landon so quick to forgive the people who treated his future wife like garbage? Maybe it's because he was just as horrible.

Landon was also mean to Jamie, but at least we get to see his character grow and mature. The same can't be said for his friends. They seem pretty consistently terrible throughout most of the film before suddenly flipping a switch and becoming completely different people. Either they have truly reformed their ways off-screen, or they're simply pretending to be nice people so they aren't remembered for bullying a girl who was dying of leukemia.

The whole movie is pretty religious

To a kid watching A Walk to Remember, the movie seems like a standard teen romance (albeit one with a sad twist). As an adult, though, it's impossible to see past the religious overtones of the flick. There are bound to be some religious references when the film's protagonist is the daughter of a pastor, but A Walk to Remember goes way beyond a few Bible verses.

While a lot of teen movies feature heavy swearing and some pretty hot and heavy make-out scenes, A Walk to Remember stays safely in PG territory. Its themes of forgiveness, love, and redemption also carry a moral lesson beyond the love story. Jamie speaks of her faith of God several times in the film, and at times lowkey tries to convert Landon. That being said, you don't have to be a Christian to enjoy the film; the movie is still, at its core, a love story.

Jamie's dad could learn a lesson from Landon about not living in the past

The end of the movie takes place a few years after Jamie has passed. Landon has recently been accepted into medical school and comes back home to see his father-in-law, who couldn't be prouder of everything that Landon has accomplished. Landon speaks fondly of Jamie and clearly still loves her, but he has also removed his wedding band. He also gives Jamie's mom's book to his father-in-law, symbolizing that he is truly letting go and moving forward with his life.

The reverend could learn a lot from his son-in-law. Unlike Landon, he continues to wear his wedding ring even though his wife has long since passed away. While there is nothing wrong with remembering those you love, Landon recognizes that loving those you have lost doesn't mean you have to live in the past. Hopefully, Jamie's dad takes a cue from Landon. Otherwise, it seems like he is setting himself up for a lonely future, lost in sadness over losing his wife and his only child.