The Vow

Directed By: Michael Sucsy

Starring: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Sam Neill, Scott Speedman, Jessica Lange, and Jessica McNamee

I can't lie. I'm not a huge fan of Channing Tatum.  I think he's a very limited actor whose best moments on screen are those when he's not talking.  At the same time, I'm a fan of Rachel McAdams.  It's been a long time since the days of Mean Girls and Wedding Crashers, and I've enjoyed watching her grow as an actress over the years.  With each new role she takes on, I see her expanding her range.  With all that in mind, I went to Michael Sucsy's The Vow, a romance starring Tatum and McAdams, with a conflicted mindset.  Unfortunately, I came out the same way too.

Leo (Tatum) and Paige (McAdams) are a married couple out at the movies on a snowy night in Chicago.  On their way home, they stop at a red light and kiss.  Their moment of passion suddenly becomes a moment of tragedy as a truck barrels into their car and sends Paige flying through the windshield.  The physical wounds the two suffer are nothing compared to the psychological blows Paige takes from the crash.  She has lost a significant amount of her memory including all her memories of Leo and their marriage.  She last remembers being in law school and engaged to her ex-fiancée Jeremy (Scott Speedman).  Paige has no memory of a man she once vowed to love with all her heart.  Jeremy suffers too though.  Faced with tragedy, manipulative in-laws (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange), and nearly insurmountable odds, Leo must find a way to make his wife fall in love with him all over again.

The Vow started off on the wrong foot and never found the right balance.  With Channing Tatum's awful acting, I never expected it to do so in the first place.  Director Michael Sucsy jumps straight into the accident, which is a huge mistake.  He could have used ten to fifteen minutes to develop the characters and make this central moment in the movie actually impactful.  I could care less about the accident because it occurs so quickly.  I have no vested interest in Paige, Leo, or the life they spent together before the moment that changes everything for them.  Flashbacks to that former life are insufficient to capture that spark.

Beyond just the characters, Sucsy doesn’t develop some important arcs in the storyline.  This kind of crap just doesn't fly with me.  He doesn’t develop the plot around Paige and her ex-fiancée Jeremy at all.  She kisses him once and never goes to see him again throughout the film.  Who cares?  That's not nearly enough to convince me that she's in love with him, nor am I convinced that this guy has the cajónes to take Paige from Leo.  Another storyline that is not well developed is the way history repeats itself within Paige's family.  The wedge that originally drove them apart years ago and comes back to haunt Paige just seems rather random.  These poorly constructed storylines take a great deal away from The Vow and add a great deal to my bar tab.

I'm not going to spend too much time dwelling on the acting in The Vow.  We all know Channing Tatum can't act and he botched every intimate scene with his horrendous performance.  At the same time, McAdams brings a certain charm to the film that's unmistakable.  In a romantic flick, she's certainly in her element, and it shows every time she's on screen.  She may have single-handedly saved the movie from getting a wasted rating.

As many issues as I have with this movie, I have to give The Vow some credit.  It's not the ultra sappy romance I expected.  It actually has a decent, realistic love story.  At the end of the day, Sucsy makes you care about whether Leo and Paige ever get back on the right path.  That being said, this love story is drowned out by some pretty crappy filmmaking.  Ladies, don’t worry.  You can drown out these problems with some flirtinis.  The Vow gets a 0.09% rating.