Film: The Vow
Starring: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams
Directed by: Michael Sucsy

Every Valentine’s Day, like clockwork, studios ready and release films targeted at frustrating men and wooing women throughout the Hallmark-holiday time frame of mid-February. Some years, this works well for the betterment of cinematic history and some truly great films are released inspiring passion and love, but more often than not the exact opposite happens, leaving guys to question their lovers choices in art and leaving ladies to defend their picks to said guys. I have seen this cycle repeat at least twenty times in my life (my memory sucks when it comes to pre-five-years-old, sue me), but few have holiday weekends have had films as awful and frustrating as The Vow.

Bringing together two veterans of Nicholas Sparks’ romance school for a film that wishes it were one-eighth as whimsical as anything Sparks ever scribbled, The Vow is anything but a “sure thing” Valentine’s Day film. “Based On Real Events,” a car accident caused by Chicago plot truck leaves Paige (Rachel McAdams) suffering from memory loss so severe that she cannot remember ever meeting her husband, Leo (Channing Tatum). Everything from roughly the last five years of her life goes blank in an instant and the audience is left to follow Leo as he attempts to help her remember while keeping his business afloat and learning a lesson or two in patience. Not exactly a first-time concept, but seeing as the film includes a picture of the actual couple from the original story, you accept it and move on.

Where The Vow falls apart is rarely within the relationship of Leo and Paige. In fact, Tatum and McAdams have a chemistry that sizzles as much as the thought of two extremely good looking and successful people finding one another can to the rest of us average citizens. The real issue with the film lies mainly in the secondary story, which involves Paige’s parents (portrayed by the underutilized Sam Neil and Jessica Lang) and their desire to have her move back home. You see, they have never met Leo and since their daughter cannot remember meeting him either, they think it best that she returns home to live with them, which was her reality as far as her last memory is concerned. Paige’s doctors tell her the best way to recover her memory is to try and resume normal life, and Paige even attempts it for a short while, but the fear of the unknown is quickly extinguished by the calm of familiarity and Paige returns home, forcing our characters to have a second struggle to overcome that is both boring and unnecessary.

Though it does manage to give off a faint sense of romance now and then, The Vow is plagued by trying to be much more than it is: a February-release romantic dramedy. This is not Nicholas Sparks, though the writing clearly shows an abundance of appreciation for his work, and in the end comes off as nothing more than a drawn out excuse to make pretty people look sad long enough for us to feel sorry for them.

If you care about your relationship, avoid The Vow throughout your Valentine’s Day festivities. If you really want to woo a girl with film, why not stay in with classics and make her a nice dinner? Trust me, it will go over a lot better than watching the talents of Sam Neil and Jessica Lang go to waste while Channing Tatum does his best to appear capable of touching an ounce of the cinematic grace most leading men possess.

Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Good review. The film may be entirely unafraid of predictability and being sappy, but it’s sweet, shiny and well acted; essentially it delivers exactly what it says on the box. It also helps that McAdams and Tatum are very good in their own roles as well. Check out my review when you get the chance.