February 29, 2012
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Directed by Michael Sucsy • 104 min., PG-13
A young married couple struggles to reconnect after a coma erases her memory in “The Vow,” a new chick-flick romance hoping to set hearts a-flutter with the eye-candy charms of Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum.
The opening credits haven’t even rolled when McAdams’ character, Paige, is hurled through an automobile windshield (in super slo-mo, so we’ll understand just...how...bad it really is), resulting in a brain injury that leaves a big, empty nuthin’ where the past five love-and-laughter-filled years used to be.
That’s a major bummer for Paige’s hunky husband, Leo (Tatum), who promised in his hipster-cool, self-written wedding vows to love her “in all her forms”...whatever that means. (I was hoping it might mean that Paige would shape-shift at some point into someone or something else entirely, which would have taken the movie into an entirely different, possibly much edgier direction, but no.)
So Leo embarks on a re-woo-ing campaign to see if he can get Paige to fall in love with him, all-over-again-like.
It’s “inspired” by a true story, which happened in the 1990s to a New Mexico couple, Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, and was chronicled in their book, which detailed a nightmarish ordeal of recovery, mounting medical bills and challenges to their wedding promises to stand by each other for better and for worse.
But this Hollywood-ized version skips almost all of what must have been the real-life trauma and instead spikes the Valentines Day candy with what tastes like a lot of artificial sweetener. It seems especially contrived when Paige’s former sleazy fiancé (Scott Speedman) re-enters the picture, hoping to pick up where he left off after she dumped him, and when an even sleazier bombshell about her parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) gets dropped into the movie’s final act.
Speaking of things getting dropped, there’s Leo’s pants...or towel, or pajama bottom, or kilt, or whatever it was he was wearing before he strolls into the room without it, which embarrasses Paige, who doesn’t recall that he once used to walk around that way every morning---because the past five years are a blank, remember? In showing off Tatum’s in-the-buff backside, the movie also shows just what demographic it’s unapologetically courting: This flick is clearly one for the fillies.
Two other scenes revolve around Paige and Leo eating a box of candies. “Are you trying to make me diabetic,” she asks him between nibbles and giggles, “or just fat?”
Tee-hee-hee! Isn’t that adorable?!
Females may swoon as they swan dive into this empty-calorie, junk-food movie mush. But most guys dragged along for the sappy, soppy date-night ride will probably be starving for a serving of raw, bloody red meat by the time it’s over. And they’ll no doubt make a vow of their own: to wait a long, long time before agreeing to subject themselves to anything like it again.
--Neil Pond, American Profile