Starring: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Scott Speedman
Written by: Michael Sucsy (debut), Marc Silverstein (“He’s Just Not That Into You”), Abby Kohn (“He’s Just Not That Into You”), Jason Katims (“The Pallbearer”)
Directed by: Michael Sucsy (debut)
If you’re in a serious, long-term relationship, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ve discussed with your significant other if they would stand by you through anything that happened. You’ve probably cooked up the most absurd scenarios ever, promising to stay with them even if they encountered an event ranging from a minor cosmetic abnormality through full-on incontinence. “The Vow” takes a shot at one of those tests of true love, but fails to fulfill its promise of being a satisfying date-night movie.
Inspired by true events, “The Vow” opens with a car accident that causes Paige (Rachel McAdams) to lose the previous five years of her life, erasing her husband Leo (Channing Tatum) from her memory completely. When Paige’s estranged parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) come back into the picture, Leo is left to try to convince Paige of their previous feelings for each other and make her fall in love with him again, while trying to keep her last known boyfriend Jeremy (Scott Speedman) at bay.
If you took the over in the “Channing Tatum shirtless” office pool, you’ll come out a winner. Tatum is good enough in the role of Leo. He’s convincing in showing that he truly cares for Paige, but like with most of his performances he leaves something to be desired on the acting front. McAdams proves herself to be pretty charming in her short-lived pre-accident moments. But once the accident happens, she reverts back to her old self which makes sense in theory, but robs her of the personality she establishes early on. One of the biggest issues facing “The Vow” is the seemingly lazy effort put into creating any interesting secondary characters. The random vindictive intentions of ex-fiance Jeremy are forced and misplaced given his outward behavior. In fact, the forcedness of all of the characters who are foils to the romance make the already weak characters that much more stale.
While the plot of the film might seem similar to 2004’s “50 First Dates”, it is a little different in that Tatum’s character doesn’t have to reintroduce himself to his love on a daily basis. But perhaps that’s why “The Vow” fails to strike a chord. Though Leo goes through the big spectacles and far-fetched ideas to reignite their love, his sense of frustration kicks in and the passion isn’t felt as strong as something like “50 First Dates” where Adam Sandler’s character refuses to give up. After the accident, Paige has changed, and no longer has chemistry with Leo. Unfortunately for “The Vow,” watching someone try to force a relationship on someone else does not make for a good romance.
Coming out just in time for Valentine’s Day, “The Vow” knows its exact target audience. Although it occasionally comes off as sincere, the story is too schmaltzy, the humor is too flat and the characters are too flimsy to stand on their own.