In case you wondered: Little girls still scream for Miley Cyrus. You too may experience the need to scream, albeit for different reasons, should you take one (or more) of them to see The Last Song, yet another maudlin remake of a Nicholas Sparks bestseller.
Like most of the other films adapted from Sparks' books -- say A Walk to Remember, The Notebook or Dear John -- The Last Song is, as you may have gathered from the title, a weeper. Remain alert for the words ``doctor'' and ``medicine,'' and you'll figure out pretty quickly where things are headed. Sparks, also author of Message in a Bottle and Nights in Rodanthe, is clearly not happy unless his audience is sobbing.
The Last Song focuses on the sullen, childish Veronica ``Ronnie'' Miller (Cyrus), a nasty-tempered high-school graduate who has arrived on the Georgia coast with her annoying little brother (Bobby Coleman of Martian Child, whose tics and mugging have not aged well) to spend the summer with their divorced dad (Greg Kinnear). Ronnie is a bad girl, only not really, aside from her unpleasant demeanor. She's really just mad that her dad and mom (Kelly Preston) split, so she acts 13, not 18, and generally makes life miserable for everyone else. But she doesn't drink or smoke or sleep around. She's just so obnoxious you'll start hoping early on that she's the one who's doomed.
Ronnie is a musical prodigy who earned a scholarship to Juilliard but says she's not going. Why? Because that's what the script wants her to say; there's no real rhyme or reason for her decision. The screenplay, co-written by Sparks, also requires that she reveal her heart to the audience by saving baby sea turtles and reading Tolstoy. Once Anna Karenina makes an appearance, you'll want to throw yourself under a train, too.
Romance blossoms when Ronnie meets a cute guy (Aussie Liam Hemsworth, Cyrus' real-life boyfriend of the moment), constantly maligns him and yet somehow manages to win his love. Naturally, she must find her way back to the piano, but first there must be falling-in-love scenes (underwater at an aquarium), a boys' beach-volleyball game (eye candy for the young female audience) and -- God help me -- one of the worst shopping montages ever put on film. Though at least the dress that Ronnie gets out of it is pretty. Enjoy it, because nothing else about The Last Song -- not Cyrus' stiff, unconvincing acting, the sentimental dialogue or the falsely upbeat ending -- is pretty at all.