The Vow is based on a true story.
Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams play characters Leo and Paige. Their story and that of the real life couple the film is modeled after have little in common. Married, careers on the upswing, he produces music and she’s an artist growing in fame. And they are very, very happy.
Then comes the traffic accident. She has serious head trauma. When Paige eventually comes around she remembers nothing about Leo or their life. All her memories are up to a year or so before she met Leo.
Turns out Paige escaped from her overbearing parents and a no love relationship with a fiance. She doesn’t remember running to the city and becoming an artist. The last thing she remembers about the direction of her life was going to school to be a lawyer. Leo and their friends are total strangers.
The Vow is a tepid, though palatable story about how the two characters and their friends and family sort it all out. Tatum’s (Haywire) Leo is a big goofy lunk. He’s hard not to like. The guy’s love is strong and focused. You get scene after scene where he tries in vain to loose the free spirit that Paige used to be.
McAdam’s (Midnight in Paris) is closed, uptight and unsure. Comfort is only found in the uncomfortable relationship with her overbearing parents — played nicely by Jessica Lange and Sam Neill.
Try as he might Leo cannot break into the comfort zone of the parents and the great gulf of the unknown.
What the five writers and director Michael Sucsy fail to do is give you reasons to care about these people. They pretty much stay on the surface. Once in awhile you get a sweet scene that gives you a connection to the two characters and their dilemma but it doesn’t hold. You never really get the big payoff needed to make a film like this worth watching. They also don’t dig deep enough into this type of trauma to make the story interesting. All kinds of excellent questions are skated over with lines like, “The brain is a mystery.”
Just before the credits roll you learn the fate of the real couple that are the model for the movie. A Google search of them, what happened and their story, turns out to be more interesting but definitely not a Hollywood hit. Their story does — however — emphasize the vow.
A better movie idea might be a documentary where you really get to experience the difficulties, the passion and the power of putting a marriage back together when one person doesn’t remember the other.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, Feb. 10 at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.