The Vow

(M) Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum

I’ll bet Nicholas Sparks is just kicking himself that he didn’t think of this one: Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are deeply in love until a tragic car accident causes Paige to lose her memory.

The last four years of her life a complete blank, Paige has no idea who her husband is and he sets out to make her fall in love with him all over again.

Easier said than done, especially when Paige’s overbearing parents (Sam Neill, Jessica Lange) arrive to whisk her back to her old life, which she (conveniently for them) thinks is still her current life.

It’s hard to believe that Paige barely questions the fact that she had been estranged from her family and ex-fiancé by her own choice and doesn’t seem to possess a single long-term friend who could testify for the past four years. It takes her a good half the movie to finally look at some photos of these missing years, up until which point I had been repeating over and over again, “Why doesn’t she just look at her Facebook?” …Oh yeah, dramatic effect.

I love Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Midnight in Paris) as much as the next girl (or guy, based on many of my friends) but her character Paige feels underwritten as a free-spirited artistic type and almost unnecessarily just plain mean post-accident. Plus, she sports arguably the worst hairstyles yet of her onscreen career.

Tatum (Dear John), though nothing special, manages to be surprisingly personable and even a little funny, making the role his own. He wasn’t as bad as one audience member claimed (“Why do directors cast this no talent, retarded, ape, caveman in anything? This is proof that the world is going to end in 2012.”) although Hollywood can’t seem to help itself, writing another too-good-to-be-true leading man.

If I had woken up from a coma and been told that this fun, sensitive and generous man was my husband, there wouldn’t have been much protest on my part. But then there wouldn’t have been be a movie either, would there? This does make it frustrating when Paige constantly rebuts his earnest attempts at reconciliation.

As for the love story, sure, McAdams and Tatum have chemistry but the charismatic McAdams could have chemistry with a mailbox if she wanted to and it doesn’t even come close to the kind she shared with co-star Ryan Gosling in The Notebook.

Michael Sucsy (with only a TV movie — Grey Gardens — to his name) directed and co-wrote The Vow alongside a bunch of other writers whose credits include Valentines Day. Keeping that information in mind, it’s safe to say that it certainly could have been a lot worse.

Based on a true story, it stays true to the real-life couple’s experience in its ending, a touch I greatly appreciated and respected. A better example of its genre, with decent performances, see it if the premise makes your heart melt. …Or if your girlfriend forces you to.

Jasmine Edwards

 

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