There seems to be something to like in The Vow as it’s been number one for two weeks in a row, and all I can theorize is that much like our leading lady the audience forgets how bad this film is! The acting is mediocre with bizarre hipster moments that play like a romance “greatest hits” video, and the entire third act is based on one person not telling another person something that could have set everything right! I understand this is based on a true story, but it doesn’t make for anything short of a ridiculous sappy movie. This is Love Story for the current generation (minus the whole death thing).
Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are happily married until an accident forces Paige to suffer from a head injury, losing her memory in the process. She no longer remembers anything about her life beyond a certain point, including her relationship and marriage to Leo. As Paige tries to discover who she is, it forces her into reconnecting with her wealthy family who haven’t seen her in years, and the ex-fiancée (Scott Speedman) who wants her back.
The Vow’s only recommendation in that it deals with an interesting subject. That of trying to recover your memories, especially when you can’t remember your family. From the first time Paige wakes up and doesn’t recognize her husband, you feel the frustration coming from both characters equally. There have been stories about people suffering head injuries and completely changing their personalities and here you see Paige not remember she’s a vegetarian and changing her wardrobe. Sure at the end she’s meant to figure out those things “aren’t me” but it’s still dealt with in a way that doesn’t feel manipulative or trite.
The acting is also serviceable to a film like this. McAdams seems to be stuck in these romantic films and there’s nothing about the character that isn’t any different from The Notebook or the countless other movies she’s made in the genre. Channing Tatum tries so hard to jump into “serious acting” and here he’s sweet but it comes off as trying to hard. At times you can understand Paige’s frustration because Tatum’s character never knows the right moment to do something, and I mean anything!
The problem is this movie is just way too melodramatic and tries so hard to “be smart.” There’s an opening narration that literally seems like it’s trying to make a trailer out of this film with Tatum reciting lines like “Each of us is the sum total of every moment we’ve experienced and every person we’ve known.” That fortune cookie logic keeps going for a few minutes and the narration ends. It’s like the trailer was cut from these first scenes and they forgot to remove the narration! Its way too “hipster” with the big vocabulary and the poignant moment of Leo strumming a guitar in the dark is just laughable. When it becomes apparent that Paige is happy with her family and is moving away from Leo, he literally gives up everything to get her back. You see a few scenes of him in his “recording studio” being told by a character named Lily (Tatiana Maslany) to get back to work but he doesn’t listen. And other characters mention how he’s in debt, well if he started working this wouldn’t be a problem! The final scenes make it seem like maybe everyone won’t live happily ever after, but that’s not the case. Paige discovers something about why she’s been estranged from her family and when she asks Leo if he know he says YES! Well why the hell didn’t you tell her instead of letting her painfully realize her family is a bunch of liars? It’s these stock romance movie moments that make everything that’s preceded it seem irrelevant.
The Vow will appeal to women who find these “love overcoming insurmountable obstacles” movies entertaining. If you don’t then skip The Vow.