Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes the “The Vow,” a Nicholas Sparks-style romantic drama about getting a second shot at love. It’s by-the-numbers Sparks all the way, with clunker lines like, “I vow to live within your heart and to always call it home.”
Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes the “The Vow,” a Nicholas Sparks-style romantic drama about getting a second shot at love.
Although not adapted from a novel, it’s by-the-numbers Sparks all the way, right down to the saccharine-heavy screenplay dealing out clunker lines like, “I vow to live within your heart and to always call it home.”
“The Vow” even has a pair of Sparks movie alums in Rachel McAdams (“The Notebook”) and Channing Tatum (“Dear John”). What it doesn’t have is the combustible chemistry shared by McAdams and Ryan Gosling. Instead, we get Paige and Leo, a made-for-each-other couple living the perfect hipster life in Chicago. He runs a recording studio; she’s an in-demand sculptor.
One snowy night, a car accident upends their lives. Paige suffers a brain trauma that results in partial amnesia. She can’t remember anything about Leo, leaving it to him to spend the duration of the movie trying to win her back. It’s a sweet and allegedly “true” premise, and Tatum –– using his chiseled features to full effect –– makes you root for Leo amongst the treacle that director Michael Sucsy (HBO’s “Grey Gardens”) generously ladles out. Sentimental sap has met its match in Sucsy and the four other people sharing a writing credit with him, including Jason Katims (TV’s “Parenthood”) and Abby Kohn (“Valentine’s Day”).
Having done similar roles, the usually reliable McAdams sleepwalks through the laborious proceedings. You just want her to remember already so we can get on with it. Everything is dragged out and rendered ridiculous, as evidenced by the unintentional laughter erupting in the audience at the screening I attended.
Empathy is also in short supply, as Paige repeatedly stomps all over Leo’s feelings as she leaves the apartment they’ve shared for four years to move back in with her uptight, upper-crust parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) in Windy City suburbia. Family secrets are kept, an ex-fiancé (Scott Speedman) pops up, a wedding is planned and so on and so forth, as Sucsy studiously adheres to the tropes of the genre.
And so, ladies, when you’re making your dinner-and-movie plans for next Tuesday night, don’t drag your guy to this. “Vow” out, because that would be 104 minutes of cruel and unusual punishment no man deserves.
However, if you do opt to see it with your significant other, just remember not to compare him with Tatum’s Leo, who is this close to being the perfect man.
Dana Barbuto may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE VOW (PG 13 for for an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language.) Cast includes Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Sam Neill, Scott Speedman and Jessica Lange. 2 stars out of 4.