Review: The Vow

daniel cohen reviews the new V-Day special …

Plot: After a horrific car accident, Paige (Rachael McAdams) loses her memory of the last five years, including when she met and married her husband Leo (Channing Tatum). Leo tries to get her to remember, but Paige begins to revert back to her old life, in which she was a completely different person before ever meeting Leo.

I vowed to stay awake during this movie, and I did it. The first 20 minutes are pretty bad, though — like cringe-worthy bad. The editing of the car accident is embarrassing, the chemistry between Tatum and McAdams is a joke, and the dialogue made me shiver. McAdams even says ‘preggers’ at one point. This happens in the first three minutes of the film, so right there, I prepped myself for a shit show. But I have to admit, it got better, but it’s still no masterpiece.

Everything before the revelation of Paige’s memory loss is low quality. There are painfully clichéd flashbacks of Paige and Leo falling in love, and as I mentioned before, the chemistry between the two is non-existent. It’s funny how they actually seem to have more chemistry after Paige loses her memory, and doesn’t even know who this guy is. I don’t know if that was by design, but it was just weird.

The set-up of Paige’s character was the most infuriating element to this movie. When she falls in love with Leo, she’s an art student, kind of rebellious, and struggling to make it on her own. But uh-oh, when she loses her memory, we find out she was a conservative law student with rich parents, and engaged to generic rich douchebag #45. She apparently had a falling out with her family and straight-laced lifestyle, but she conveniently remembers nothing of the fallout and everything after. The old Paige would never date Leo, a struggling music industry professional. This clash of ideologies is such a cliché. If it was written better, that’s one thing, but there’s no subtlety to this at all.

In terms of McAdams’ performance, I actually found her art-school persona to be really annoying, and the business-like Paige to be a more intriguing character, which the movie doesn’t want me to feel at all, so that was strange. To the film’s credit, I like the conclusion of her character, and what happens as a result of these two personalities clashing.

McAdams clearly gives the best performance of the film. Channing Tatum — not so much. The lack of emotion in some of his bigger moments is really astounding, especially the earlier scenes where he’s in the hospital. He also has to give voice over narrations, and he should never be allowed to do this again. He’s talking about ‘moments of impact,’ or something, I don’t know, but he mumbles through the whole speech, and I had no idea what he was talking about. I do give Tatum credit for being better in this than most of his other work though. He does actually emote in certain scenes, and you genuinely like this guy, and want to root for him.

That’s probably the best thing I can say about this movie. Despite the clichés and bad writing, I did care about these characters, and I did like them. Leo was an easy guy to root for, so I wanted to see a good result for him in the end.

And while I like the ending, and think it was a perfect way to wrap-up the story, how we got there was bull shit. The film is painfully slow, but they introduce a quick plot device halfway through the film revolving around Paige’s closest childhood friend that is breezed over in two seconds, and never revisited until the end when it’s needed to push Paige in a certain direction in the story. That’s really lazy writing. Oh, let’s just put this off to the side, and pull it out when we really need it. And after this character does what she needs to do, she’s never seen from again. She really was a walking plot device.

I give this film credit for rising above it’s bad writing to at least make a story worth caring about, and I’m sure the audience this is made for will eat it up. I would qualify this film as ‘okay,’ but the fact that the word ‘preggers’ is used, knocks it down a peg … sorry.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Passable Entertainment)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.