Given its Valentine’s Day opening slot, there was an immense amount of hype built up around The Vow. Men around the country had a gift fall into their laps. This is what they could do on V-Day that would make their girlfriends bawl, and thank them for being sensitive enough to see it with them. A lot of us assumed that the movie was based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, because both Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams are Sparks’ go-to-guys (Tatum starring in Dear John and McAdams starring in The Notebook). The Vow’s main plotline is that Paige (McAdams) and her husband Leo (Tatum) get into a horrible car accident, which leads to her having no recollection of the past five years she spent with her husband.
This concept seemed like such a classic Sparks tale, which also didn’t hurt when it came to box-office success. Have you seen how people eat up anything Nicholas Sparks creates? THE NOTEBOOK-HELLO. That movie has garnered a cult following. How many times have we heard someone say: “I cry everytime” pertaining to Ryan Gosling and McAdams’ heart-wrenching love story? But, on the contrary, this is actually “Based on true events.” Yes, another one of those, when we don’t know how credible a story is because the definition of “based on” isn’t exactly set-in-stone in Hollywood. But really, people don’t want “real-life” in theatres. We want Nicholas Sparks to construe every minute detail into as dramatic a moment as is possible. Is that too much to ask?
When standing in the shadow of such a giant as Sparks, you really need to bring your A-game, you know? Here there wasn’t much effort put into the “horrific” car accident that opens the story. They slacked on something that could have really tugged at your heartstrings. It is all expected, and in slow motion, and there is too much time to process it. Throughout the film, Leo is the narrator, which makes us wonder that if we also could have heard Paige’s thoughts would we have emotionally invested more in the story? The coma also feels too short, so it’s hard to feel that upset when she wakes up and mistakes Leo for her doctor. We find out that Paige is in the mental state of herself five-years prior, before she cared about art, or knew Leo, or despised her parents.
The rest of the movie goes like this: there are very sweet flashbacks of the couple displaying their deep love for each other. One scene is the first day they meet, their first date, and, most importantly, their wedding day and the vows they say to each other that define the entire movie. The most significant vow being: “Regardless of the challenges that might come between us, we’ll always find our way back to each other,” which is beautiful and symbolic of the struggle Paige and Leo face.
Tatum’s narration pulls our sympathy towards him. He also does a convincing job of being anguished and frustrated, and we easily feel compassion for him. Paige’s character starts returning to her old, preppy, law-school, living-with-parents self, but by the end of the movie she has returned to art school and is asking Leo on a date. How perfect. Then you start to think, “Would that really happen? Is there something inside of us that is just destined to become a certain person no matter what?” But you can’t over-analyze a chick flick without the conclusion being exploding your own brain.
This movie has gotten some harsh reviews, and some critics appear to have taken it seriously as a genuine love story. It’s somewhere in-between. Tatum and McAdams create likeable and relatable characters and neither of them are bad actors, especially when it comes to this type of thing. It’s enjoyable, but there is something about it that is lacking a spark (Or, “Sparks”...great joke.)
It definitely makes you think about what you would have done if it were you, which is a positive on its part, because what movie doesn’t want to leave a lasting effect where you are conversing with your friends about it afterwards? The idea of losing the complete memory of the love of your life can strike a chord with many (as we have seen with The Notebook…); even people who haven’t been in love yet. But if you were expecting a tearjerker, you’re going to be disappointed. Sorry Tatum, this round goes to Ryan Gosling. Your abs are fabulous though.
Danielle Panabaker's Top Pop Picks
"I'm really into the Avett Brothers as of late."
"My girlfriends are I - we are very nerdy. We started a book club and the first book we read was Gone Girl."
"I thought it was a great film and I thought Jennifer Lawrence was incredible, you know those angry tears, I've certainly experienced that."
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