-By David Noh

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That other teen pop princess, Mandy Moore, also makes her film debut this season with the small-town romance A Walk to Remember. Here, she's Jamie, an upright Christian Miss who falls in love with bad boy Landon (Shane West), upsetting her minister Daddy (Peter Coyote) and Landon's circle of punks. She's a complete angel, and eventually gets to become one, literally.

With darkened hair to presumably give her a "plainer" look, Moore presents an image of unceasing, somewhat aggressive sweetness and purifying light. With her Biblical quotations, endless "to-do-in-life" list ("work in the Peace Corps, get a tattoo, witness a miracle") and imperturbable superiority, she's also more than a little creepy. Along with her stellar grades and volunteer work, she is, naturally, also musically gifted, and displays this talent vis-à-vis an unwilling Landon, who is undergoing punishment for campus drinking with janitorial duty, weekend tutoring and being forced to co-star with her in the school show. With suddenly crimped hair and a slinky dress, goody-goody Jamie emerges as a hot babe and gives out with a professional warble that, although far blander than Britney's, is enough to have the entire community on their feet. Later, when Landon's cruel friends circulate a raunchy computer-altered picture of her in the cafeteria, Jamie's horrified reaction is so augmented by hack director Adam Shankman's use of jarring Muzak and sound fx that one fully expects her to start displaying Carrie-esque skills and blow her enemies away.

With his teeny features and non-threatening boyishness, the porno-monickered Shane West simply isn't convincing as a juvenile delinquent, evincing all the rebellion of a mischievous acolyte who's maybe imbibed an extra sip of Communion wine. As her father and his mom, a tired Peter Coyote and a haggard Darryl Hannah seem to be in a Brunette Bad Hair Day competition to the death.

--David Noh

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