By: Addison Wylie
The Vow is one of those movies that is a guaranteed success. With the film hitting theatres around Valentine’s Day and by having two attractive actors fill out the lead roles, the familiarity and the timing is enough to bring in big bucks for everyone involved. It also must be nice for Kim and Krickitt Carpenter (the couple this movie is based on) to have their story told to a younger, unaware audience.
The Carpenter’s story is filled with heart ache caused by an unfortunate event. In 1993, Kim (now named Leo and played by Channing Tatum) and Krickitt (now named Paige and played by Rachel McAdams) were newlyweds and head over heels with each other. Ten weeks later on a rough Winter’s night, the couple gets rear ended in a car accident and Paige suffers severe head trauma.
Much later, Paige wakes up in her hospital bed with a memory wiped clear of Leo and the couple’s marriage. Leo, heartbroken but determined, is willing to stick close with his wife and see if he can resurrect the romance.
The situation, however, isn’t a walk in the park. Paige is willing to listen to Leo but a happy ending still seems far off. There are also changes that have to change to everyday activities since Paige doesn’t remember account numbers or passwords or her way around town. On top of this, Paige’s parents are also concerned and are wanting to pull her away from her previous lifestyle and nurse her back to full mental health away from Leo. It’s the ultimate story of whether the actions you think are right or more so in the opposite direction and it’s a fork-in-the-road that all parties must face.
The Vow has a story that is hook-worthy, has built-in viewership, and all that’s left is to define is whether The Vow makes for a good movie.
Overall, it’s decent. Decent romantic fare that does the trick, hits all the right notes, and does nothing out of the ordinary to surprise us. In fact, I could end the review right now because I think that may be enough information for couples wanting reassurance that The Vow will do nothing that’ll change your life but will make you feel fluffy and entertained for just under two hours. Well, for those love birds, thanks for reading. For you other movie buffs, I’ll explain a little more.
I really like both Tatum and McAdams. I was pleasantly surprised with Tatum’s romantic turn in the under appreciated and much better film Dear John and McAdams has a terrific track record (y’know, if we look past The Hot Chick). Both have showed that they are strong forces in chick flicks and, thus, they’re in their element here, pull off credible performances, and even have good enough chemistry.
That said, I do think these two work better when the scenes are focused on them individually. A good example of this is when Paige first enters her apartment after coming home from the hospital. Leo has thrown a surprise party for her where all their friends and other friends of friends are in attendance. As we see these now-mysterious people greet a confused Paige, we see McAdams nail that feeling of being overwhelmed in a world full of strangers.
Same goes for Tatum. As much as Leo is determined to help out his impaired wife, we see instances of true despair. A scene where Tatum plucks away on an acoustic guitar in a vacant studio is a showcase of how Tatum can portray fading tenacity and bold hopelessness. It’s a scene that some could scoff off as cliché but it’s much more than that.
The supporting characters are all well cast but much like the film itself, they are very ordinary. There are a couple of casting decisions that could’ve been rethought and those belong to the roles of Paige’s Mother and Father. These roles are played by Sam Neill and Jessica Lange.
These roles are worth talking about because they are distracting. Neill, who can currently be seen on the J.J Abrams produced show Alcatraz, can be a very interesting presence but here, it feels as if he has walked off the set of Alcatraz and onto the next studio lot to pick up a quick cheque. When comparing his appearance here to commercials for the TV show, it looks like he’s dressed in the same wardrobe. Same goes with Lange who can currently be seen on the surprise hit Amercian Horror Story. These esteemed actors sleepwalk and because they’re so recognizable, we can’t help but fill in the blanks whether they’re true or not. We don’t believe them as concerned parents but just as actors who are trying to fill some voids in their schedules.
All other elements unmentioned are completely fine and do no harm. However, when I round up my films at the end of the year and reflect, I have a feeling I’m going to remember The Vow not for it’s story or it’s romance, but for it’s ability to please and secure its self as a safe bet for couples on a quiet Sunday night looking for something to watch that won’t challenge them too much.