The Vow

23 Feb

Title: The Vow
Year: 2012
Director: Michael Sucsy
Writers: Jason Katims, Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Michael Sucsy and Stuart Sender
Starring: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Sam Neill, Scott Speedman, Jessica Lange, Jessica McNamee
MPAA Rating: PG-13, an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language
Runtime: 104 min
IMDb Rating: 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Metacritic: 43

Look, The Vow isn’t a particularly good movie, not even close. It offers up stuff we’ve seen done time and time again, and seen it done better than how it was done here which was in just a super shallow kind of way. But, I must admit that Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum make up for that, and actually come close to making this film worthy of a recommendation. Just close though, it’s not like they achieved it; but they had good chemistry, did the best they possibly could with the material they were given, and it’s easy to understand why this one’s made so much money when it was released as the Valentine’s Day option of the year. And I guess that’s what it was made for so it’s all good, this is a good date movie, not worth for much more than that, but it’s not like it was pretending it ever was.

Because this really is a good love story to watch and then forget all about; you have the tenderness of it all, the lovable leads, the problem set in their way to get a few tears from your eyes and everything else. It’s based on an impossibly romantic true story from a couple that experienced this whole problem some twenty years ago. That problem is a car crash in which newlyweds Paige and Leo get involved, and which leaves Paige in a coma that results in severe memory loss and which makes Leo, their relationship and recent marriage, all things that she can’t even remember. And of course what we’ll get is a devoted husband who still loves his wife very much and who does everything to make her remember him, to remember them, and to fall back in love with him again.

Of course Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams would be the ideal choices to play this couple, they’re both stars of past Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations (she in The Notebook, the one great adaptation of that incredibly mediocre writer’s work; he in Dear John, to which I gave a C+ mostly because of Amanda Seyfried), and they’re both super charming. Mr. Tatum, a model and stripper before he became an actor obviously has the looks and physique to play a role women would lust for, and his acting is actually getting better each time I see a new film of his and he seems as though he genuinely puts effort into it, which is maybe why Steven Soderbergh has been casting him in films (the director’s upcoming Magic Mike is even based on Mr. Tatum’s aforementioned real-life experiences as a stripper). And then there’s Rachel McAdams, one of the loveliest actresses working today, a gorgeous woman with one of the most beautiful smiles in the world that brings a really nice warmth to every character she plays.

As Paige wakes up she thinks she still lives at home with her parents, played by the great Jessica Lange and Sam Neill, and much to their happiness, she actually think she’s still engaged to her ex, played by Scott Speedman, of whom they actually approved, unlike Leo, so they are overjoyed to be taking home a daughter that has seemingly forgotten about all the recent changes she made in her life which they weren’t all that happy about (she was a lawyer then, but then switched to art school, for instance). Leo tries her best to get her to remember, takes her to where they went on dates, to her favorite places, trying to remind her of things about herself. But to no avail, it’s not coming back, and she’s attracted to the ex, Jeremy.

The Vow, however, doesn’t actually go to the super melodramatic measures and extreme circumstances you’d expect it to, mostly because it looks like a Nicholas Sparks adaptation which sticks to that formula like glue, but since it isn’t it can more light. So what we get is a rather painless kind of film, I mean it obviously presents a lot of really harsh issues, but it never delves into them all that much, at least not in as dire a light as you might have expected it to. And that’s just as well, because what matters is that we like these characters; we feel sorry for the beautiful Paige, sorrier still for Leo who proves to be the nicest guy. And the fact that The Vow didn’t embrace the melodramatic potential but that instead was just a pleasant enough film to maybe see with your girlfriend and not much else is something that I liked, and it made the film work for me better than I was expecting it to.

This one got really close to actually working for me. I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s still not a good movie, but the fact that it never took itself seriously is something that I liked, it’s as though the filmmakers knew this was a pretty silly premise they had and they just tried to make the most of it. And it came close to working, you never once get to feel for Leo as much as you would in other movies because you don’t get why he needs her back, I mean he obviously loves her, but those emotions are skimmed through in a shallow way, it’s like they were together just because they looked great together. And that’s okay, because this is an escapist film made for Valentine’s Day dates when people just want a hundred minutes of lovey dovey stuff that will get their partners in the mood but not too lovey dovey that will leave them only wanting to talk about it once it’s over.

Grade: C+

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