The Vow (2012)
Director: Michael Sucsy
Writers: Jason Katims, Abby Kohn, Stuart Sender, Marc Silverstein
Cast: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Jessica Lange, Sam Neill, Jessica McNamee, Wendy Crewson, Tatiana Maslany, Lucas Bryant, Scott Speedman, Joey Klein, Joe Cobden, Jeananne Goossen, Dillon Casey, Shannon Barnett, Lindsay Ames, Kristina Pesic, Brittney Irvin, Sarah Carter, Angela Vint, Rachel Skarsten, Bill Turnbull, Dharini Woollcombe, Rosalba Martinni, Jeff J.J. Authors, Roland Rothchild, Jonathan Psaila
Synopsis: A car accident puts Paige (McAdams) in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo (Tatum) works to win her heart again.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language
Better than you might think
Although most romantic movies are generically cliched ridden, to the point that it becomes almost unbearable to watch sometimes. However, it's kind of reassuring to find movies like "The Vow" that actually take their time into putting together a heartfelt story, while never talking down to it's audience. Sure, "The Vow" still falls into almost every romantic drama cliche in the book, and it still features one dimensional stereotypical characters. But, it does go over a great philosophy in life about how it's the past that defines who we are, and if we were to have those experiences taken away, then it would almost take away a part of ourselves.
Unfortunately, this concept was more deeply explored in such films like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "500 Days of Summer." And, It's been said that "The Vow" was inspired by true events, but does that necessarily equate to the movie actually being good? After all, if you go by that nonsensical logic, then you're basically saying that films like "Walking Tall" is a great movie, as that was also inspired by real life events; hence I don't know how much stock you want to put into that argument. Therefore, I think it's probably best to judge this movie on it's own merit rather than falling back on the old logic, "It's inspired by a real life story, so it must be great....." Having said all that, does "The Vow" hold up on it's own? Well, lets get into that now.
The movie essentially takes place in Chicago, where a happily married couple named Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) have been married for a few years. As the movie starts off, Paige and Leo seem like the perfect couple together. In fact, one could argue they're almost too perfect together, as they're never seen having any kind of problems prior to the accident. However, for the sake of plot convenience, Leo and Paige are the perfect married couple, as the only problems they ever have is determining who loves the other one more.
Sadly, due to a terrible car accident, Paige not only ends up in a coma, but she loses all her memories of her entire relationship with Leo, after waking up. To make matters more interesting, her only memories of her life stem from her still being engaged to her ex-fiance, Jeremy (Scott Speedman), and still living with her parents, while attending law school. Needless to say, all the events that led up to her dropping out to pursue a career in art, while having this fairy tale marriage with Leo is completely wiped away from her memory.
And like all movies of this ilk, the seedy ex-fiance, Jeremy, uses this to his advantage to steal her back. Of course, he does this by acting like the sweetest guy in the world around Paige, while acting like an obnoxious jerk around Leo, to really rub it in that he's going to steal her away from him. Gee, isn't that nice of him? However, it gets even better too. As it turns out, the parents don't like Leo at all, as they'd rather she was still dating Jeremy. Plus, Paige's father is by far no saint in this either, as it seems he's using this whole memory loss thing to start a clean slate with his daughter. As it's later revealed in the movie, Paige had good reason to drop out of law school, and cut off all contact from her father originally before the accident. However, I won't spoil that for my readers, as I wouldn't want to give away too much.
As I mentioned earlier, the film suffers from falling into a few cliches, and features stereotypical characters that one would expect from a movie like this. For example, you have the stereotypical ex-fiance that's an opportunistic jerk, a seedy father who's a coward behind his lies, and you have Leo, who's essentially the ultimate good guy in all this. Seriously, if there was an award for perfect man of the year, then Tatum's character would win because they literally have him come off as a saint, in this movie.
However, that's not to say this film doesn't have it's good qualities as well. Although Tatum's character is a bit one dimensional, his performance certainly is not. If anything, I was pleasantly surprised to see the emotional range he was able to display with his role; in spite of the mediocre dialogue that he was forced to work with throughout the movie. Granted, I would hesitate to call his performance worthy of any special accolades, but he certainly carries the film quite well, as one would have to wonder how much better his role would've been if the script had been written better.
Plus, the chemistry between Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams was great as well, as you could definitely sense a lot of on screen chemistry between them. Another thing that I liked about the movie was how it goes over a philosophy that even Leo says about how it's our past that ultimately define who we are. Meaning that the past relationships that we've had in our lives can often define us individually; regardless of how painful that memory may be. However, if you were to take away those memories, then it would only take away from who we really are, and how we should never take our loved ones for granted. After all, nothing in life is ever guaranteed. Granted, these are great philosophical aspects for any film to go over, but as I said earlier, there have been other movies that have gone over this exact same concept a helluva a lot better in the past; hence I can't simply ignore that fact either.
In the end, I think this film is definitely worth renting on DVD/Blue Ray, as it's not a bad movie. Hell, it's definitely a lot better than most romantic love stories out there, but like I said before, the concept it tries to play on has been done before, and a lot better too in such films like "500 Days of Summer" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." However, like "The Help", "The Vow" won't win any points for originality, but it's still fairly well told for what it tries to be. Overall, I would have to give it a two and a half out of four, as it's definitely one of the better love stories out there.