Be careful, Rachel. All that’s keeping Channing’s head on is that hat.

Theatrical Release Date: 02/10/2012
Director: Michael Sucsy
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Jessica Lange, Sam Neill, Jessica McNamee, Wendy Crewson, Tatiana Maslany, Lucas Bryant, Scott Speedman
Rated: PG-13 for an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes



SPOILER ALERT: “The Vow” isn’t based on a Nicholas Sparks book. However, short of certain plot resolutions Mr. Sparks seems to prefer, one wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference.

In the film, Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams are a happily married couple, running in a Chicago hipster crowd and living a romantic, unrealistic life as a recording studio owner and sculptor, respectively. A car accident renders McAdams’ memory of her life with Tatum kaput. He must then start the arduous process of attempting to get his wife to fall in love with him all over again.

The fundamental problem with this setup is casting Tatum. I realize he’s the man-candy of the moment but he’s only got one acting gear; and any attempt to ramp up the emotion to something higher than a simmer results in simple yelling or the swing of a fist. McAdams is fine, though she really doesn’t have much to do but look trapped and confused whenever she’s not flashing that infectious grin of hers (a hideous hair coloring in the latter half doesn’t help things either). Bringing in Sam Neill and Jessica Lange as McAdams’ parents is a nice touch, though whoever was in charge of Lange’s make-up might want to consider looking for a new career field.

As for the story, there’s not much on-screen that fans of the sappy rom-com genre won’t see coming a mile away (and yet be completely satisfied with). It would have been nice to axe an annoying subplot involving an old flame played by Scott Speedman; It manages to make watching Tatum on-screen almost desirable in comparison. Also, the hipster friends that comprise Channing’s support system are the very definition of plot devices and get as much character development as a Michael Bay film.

All that being said, I doubt it comes as any great shock that I’m not the target demo. Hell, I spent a portion of the film lamenting the terrible foley work whenever characters walked in the snow (the crunch of their footsteps was all wrong) and groaning that they chose to play a song by The Cure I really like when the credits begin to roll (which elicited more emotion out of me than the film itself).

For all those who saw the trailer and squealed in excitement, you’ll get all you want out of “The Vow” and it gets a 3 out of 5. Aside from the very nature of films like this, and Tatum’s non-modulating emotive abilities, this is actually a bit better than most of the weepy romances boyfriends and spouses work so hard to avoid being dragged to. Take that for what it’s worth.

3 out of 5