Out of Tune 'Song'
Mary Pols, Special to MSN Movies
According to a recent interview in USA Today, the one-man best-seller factory Nicholas Sparks wrote "The Last Song" for Miley Cyrus, tailoring the tragedy-tinged summer romance to the Disney teen queen's desires. Cyrus told the reporter she even got to pick a name for her character, and chose Ronnie in homage to her grandfather. It's like Dante and Beatrice all over again, with the Georgia coast standing in for Paradise. Let's imagine the other notes Cyrus might have given Sparks.
Dear Nick: I don't wanna sing in this one, 'kay? Somethin' musical is fine, but I'm breaking out. Growing up. No more Hannah Montana for me.
Dear Miley: I'm going to make Ronnie a talented piano player, so gifted that Juilliard will offer her a position even though she hasn't played in a year and didn't apply.
Dear Nick: What's Juilliard? Hey, you calling this "The Last Song" makes me think someone is going to die. Better not be Ronnie! I know that worked in "A Walk to Remember," but I'm not pulling a Mandy Moore here.
Dear Miley: Someone has to die. It's a rule in my books. I'm thinking family member. We've already got Greg Kinnear playing your dad, Steve, who lives in a cute house right on the beach in Georgia, and Kelly Preston will play your mom. They're divorced and Ronnie and her little brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman) live in New York with Mom. Mom is dropping you kids off for the summer in Georgia.
Dear Nick: Kill the New Yorker! Hate city folk! Or Bobby Coleman. Did you see "Martian Child"? Annoying!
Dear Miley: We'll see. Kinnear is classy, charming and has range, whereas Preston is basically just a talking Talbot's model. He might have to take the hit.
Dear Nick: We need some church angle to keep my Christian base happy, but make it minimal. And don't make me all goody-goody. Like I said, I'm not Mandy Moore. Boring!
Dear Miley: How about Ronnie's dad is blamed for burning down the town's beautiful old chapel? His penance involves making stained glass. P.S.: Ronnie is very rebellious. But she doesn't drink or smoke, so we won't offend anyone in the Disney demographic.
Dear Nick: Oh good, can I snarl? I snarl good.
Dear Miley: Girlfriend! Of course! There is a snarl on every page. And also some sneers. And if you could hunch your shoulders up near your ears a bunch, that would really add to our sense that you are angry. Or have poor posture.
Dear Nick: Why am I so angry? Did they cut off my Prada account?
Dear Miley: Ronnie is upset about her parents splitting up, but other than that let's just leave it vague. It's Dad's fault. He split because they grew apart. Sometimes, you know, love isn't enough. God, I love that. I'm putting that in the book.
Dear Nick: That's so wise. Love isn't enough! But soooo inspirational for writing, don't you think? Once, during a breakup, I tweeted "tears are the words the heart can't express." Isn't that beautiful? You can totally use that if you want.
Dear Nick: Never heard back after my last note. Anywho, how about the BOYZ???? I like 'em a little older, with major abs but no chest hair (yuck).
Dear Miley: That's the studio's job, to find you a soul mate, I mean, cast mate, but I can tell you that Will, the guy I'm writing for Ronnie, is crazy about her from the second he pours a milkshake on her. And he's really rich, but doesn't act like it. And get this, you guys bond over a batch of sea turtle eggs. I really care about the environment.
Dear Nick: Does Will have one of those houses that back up to a salt marsh? With no other house in sight? I love that about your movies. P.S.: The environment is my favorite! Learned all about it from Leonardo DiCaprio. I wish he'd recycle me. Here's an idea: We get him for Will.
Dear Miley: DiCaprio too edgy. Don't like edgy. Yes to the house. Never mess with formula, that's my motto, even if you risk boring your base. Been writing for four straight days. Almost done.
Dear Nick: OMG! Disney found the perfect guy for me! Liam Hemsworth. He kind of looks like Hayden Christensen, that guy from the good "Star Wars" movies? But he's even cuter. He's from Australia, so maybe you work that into the plot? I love accents.
Dear Miley: Liam will have to fake it. I don't like foreigners. I only like Americans from the South. In fact, I don't really believe anything happens anywhere except along the Southern coast. OK, off to finish the book. I'm hoping to break my record and write this one in under a week. Wish me luck!
Dear Nick: I got the book. I'm totally gonna read it someday. When I'm old like you. Just so busy!
Mary Pols is a Bay Area-based journalist. She reviews movies for Time.com and was for many years a film critic for the San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times. She is also the author of a memoir, "Accidentally on Purpose," published in 2008 by Ecco/Harper Collins. When she's inspired, usually by something weird, she blogs about it at www.maryfpols.com.