The Vow * * 1/2

Genre: Drama

Director: Michael Sucsy

Writers: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Michael Sucsy

Cast: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Jessica Lange, Sam Neill

Running Length: 105 minutes

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.

Review: Despite a “based on true events” premise, The Vow is about as rote a romantic drama as it gets. In fact, it almost seems Nicholas Sparks had a hand in it, even though that’s not actually the case. This is a movie squarely targeted at the women, and its box office success in the US is testament to the power of this demographic. Unwilling husbands and boyfriends will no doubt be dragged to the cinema to catch this, and while it won’t be an entirely moot outing, it’s hard to imagine any (straight) men getting into this movie.   

The best thing about The Vow is Rachel McAdams, who puts forth a great performance despite the limiting material here. There is, however, little real chemistry between her and Channing Tatum, and as a result their tortured romance post-trauma never comes across as being quite believable. Channing Tatum is obviously here as a pretty face and body, and although he tries hard to emote (with uneven results), Tatum would be most remembered for his multiple bare-bodied scenes here, including one where he shows off his bubble butt. Jessica Lange and Sam Neill seem to be downgrading their career trajectories by appearing in a film like this one, but at least Lange gets one good scene out of the movie, essentially out-acting every other cast member in those few minutes.

The Vow isn’t afraid to come across as being a cheesy melodrama, and it embraces both aspects with aplomb. In its own way, that’s a charming thing to do and The Vow works well as a date movie. Unfortunately, those looking to vesting more emotion into the movie may find themselves somewhat disappointed – very little is done with the premise of the movie, and eventually the script writes itself into a corner with no way out. The Vow avoids some of the expected clichés – no second bump on the head to magically restore Paige’s memory, for example – but the scribes add nothing in to replace the void. There’s no pat denouement apart from an end title card detailing the outcome of the real life couple, but at least Michael Sucsy has managed to resist injecting forced tragedy into the tale, unlike how a Nicholas Sparks novel/movie would have panned out.      

Rating: * * ½ (out of four stars)


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