The Vow (2012)
It’s like 50 First Dates…minus 49…plus prettier actors. Yeah, that didn’t add up for me either.
The Vow is about a young, bohemian, happily married couple who are driving down the street one day, stop at a red light, lean over to kiss each other, and get rear-ended by a Mack truck that slams them into a wall. The husband gets banged up, but his wife gets put into a coma. A short time later, she wakes the hell up with a mean case of amnesia. Doesn’t remember her husband, still thinks she’s engaged to her ex, and since she can’t recall anything from the past four years, she’s pretty much a stranger to her boo. But since he’s one of those hopeless romantic types who watches The Notebook a lot and thinks love is stronger than memory loss, he doesn’t give up. No matter what the cost, and despite her insistence on rekindling old flames and reconnecting with her estranged family that thinks he’s no good, he stays the course and tries to make his wife remember.
What a guy.
As you may have noticed from the poster, this here buzzkill fairytale is in fact “INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS.” Caps lock is a must for these kinds of stories. And according to Wikipedia, it actually seems to stay pretty faithful to its said inspiration. Apparently the real-life couple got through their ordeal thanks to their faith in God, but that sounds like the only big difference between them and these secular heathens of ours. Granted, it’s a pretty appealing story, the kind of thing that would get you a book, get you on Oprah, and get you a movie that would totally come out on Valentine’s Day. But that’s the thing about this story: it’s a novelty item, a flavor of the week.
Now, I’m sure this isn’t an isolated incident, that there have been couples throughout time who’ve had to work their way through amnesia. And being the big fan of fidelity that I am, that’s great, those couples rock. But by the same token, it’s not the most relatable story in the world now, is it? When I think about the kind of “couple problems” that my couple friends and I have, the go-to’s tend to be money management, planning for the future, and how many kids to brew up? Believe me, there are others, but forgetting your spouse and mentally traveling back in time isn’t one of ’em. It’s not that stories are only effective if they make you think, “Holy crap…this is about me!,”although for this particular story, it would have helped.
Because when all is said and done, there’s only so much to be taken away from this movie outside of a healthy reminder that Channing Tatum’s still ripped. If I had to take a guess at the moral of this story, I suppose it’s that true love waits. But since it actually doesn’t wait in this particular instance, it’s hard to actually say what I was supposed to gain. Buckle up, maybe? I don’t know. Really wish it could have bridged a gap in some way by using their struggle with her amnesia as a metaphor for something more universal. It’s really too bad that it doesn’t and remains a passing fascination, one that makes you think, “Sucks for them,” before moving on with your life.
On top of that, it’s painfully repetitive. Like, We Need to Talk About Kevin-repetitive. The whole damn plot is just Channing Tatum devising a new ideas to jog his wife’s memory, Rachel McAdams trying to be open-minded to it, the idea inevitably backfiring on them, them getting into a screaming match, leading them right back at square one. Sounds fun, right? Since it’s not the most unpredictable bastard of a plot either, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by revealing that this is the formula for the entire movie up until the last ten minutes or so. Perhaps there are folks who like these kinds of movies, ones where the characters make zero progress from start to near-finish despite their very best efforts. If somewhere out there those people exist, someone needs to give them a hug, ’cause that ain’t my cup of tea and this here is a bummer and a half.
There’s also the whole issue of the chemistry between our two leads, and to be honest, I’ve always been lousy at determining these things. If it was The Vow: starring Rachel McAdams and Hitler’s ghost, that’d be one thing. But Rachel and Channing, they’re fine together. Sure, they could have been better, but alas, it was out of their hands.
See, given her condition and circumstances, McAdams has to go the whole movie wearing this face of utter shock and confusion, because apparently a major side effect of amnesia is looking like a dramatic squirrel. Add that to all the time she spends being stubborn as hell and moping about the husband she doesn’t know for the bazillionth time to anyone in earshot, and you’ve got yourself one seriously exhausting individual. Can’t really knock McAdams for any of that because she’s giving it the old college try. Can totally knock the writers and director though.
And since I already spent the majority my 21 Jump Street review gushing about him, I’ll keep things brief and just say that I’m still on the Channing Tatum bandwagon. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really bring much of note to the table, and from a completely superficial standpoint that I’m ashamed to even be taking, he doesn’t exactly strike me as a McAdams’ “type” either. But that’s neither here nor there. Like McAdams, he serves his purpose and is just as much eye candy for the ladies as she is for the fellas. However, given all the surprisingly good and against-type stuff he’s been doing this year, it’s frustrating to see him front and center in the lovey dovey, Nicholas Sparks-y crap that he was doing such a good job of distancing himself from. Whatever they’re paying him, it ain’t worth it. Your better than this, C-dog.
Ugh, serenity now. I need to see Magic Mike already.
All the same, there’s nothing egregiously bad about The Vow, and though it wasn’t my vote for movie night, it wasn’t torture to sit through either. Aggravating, yes, but pretty low on the Richter scale in terms of capital offenses. It’s just a very forgettable way to kill time, which is kind of fitting considering the context. Also really tired of the amnesia card being pulled in any story in any medium, but since this is one’s actually grounded in truth and there’s no ulterior motive where Rachel McAdams turns out to be Keyser Soze or something, it gets away with it. Still, it could have been more.
But, hey, it’s probably super helpful if you ever, like, have amnesia.