Amnesia has been used by every two bit TV show that needed an easy B-plot for sweeps season since televisions first entered our living rooms. It is the first sign that your hack writer has ran out of ideas and an indication to the viewers that the program they are watching is going down the tubes. I bring all of this up to say that, in the year 2012, someone in Hollywood actually felt that a major motion picture based around a wife developing a case of amnesia makes for a unique film. Finally, someone has remade 50 First Dates, but this time as a drama!
The Vow is the (based on a true) story of Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams), a young married couple madly in love with each other. One night while driving home on icy roads, Paige unbuckles her seat belt to get frisky with Leo. Not a smart move with an out of control salt truck behind you. It’s a Crash Test Dummies commercial sprung to life!
Paige wakes from a coma days later, only for everyone to find that she has no recollection of what has transpired in her life over the past five or so years. Now this is a pretty handy situation for Paige’s parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange), who she hasn’t spoken to in years after a fight, but are now free to reenter her life as if nothing has occurred. This doesn’t work out so well for Leo, as he is now a man deeply in love with a woman who literally knows nothing about him. Then again, who hasn’t been there before, right fellas? Up high!
I do not carry the deep set hatred for Tatum (Dear John) that many others feel. I have often found him to be the best part in otherwise horrible films, or to outright steal a movie from the stars when given a good supporting role. What never fails to happen with Tatum, however, is his ability to pick the absolute worst material for him to be the main star of. The streak continues here.
Tatum has comedy chops, and it seems by looking at the directors of the films that he has chosen to appear in that he has an interest in getting better at his craft. What Tatum is still severely lacking in at the moment is the ability to project to the audience his character’s feelings. When called on in scenes to bare some of the pain that Leo must be going through, he comes closest to impersonating someone with a bad case of constipation when what he is searching for is anger.
The rest of the cast do fine, given the material that they have to work with. McAdams (Wedding Crashers) strangely never seems to get a good grasp on her character throughout the film; I understand that Paige, mentally, is five years younger, but at times she seemed to be playing the character as a 13 year old. Maybe it’s just me, but would you really hit on your old fiancée while your husband is standing right beside you, even if you don’t really remember your husband? You’ve seen the wedding pictures; this isn’t an Unknown situation for crying out loud.
Director Michael Sucsy is a newcomer to the big screen, with his only other credit being HBO’s remake of the documentary Grey Gardens. There he gave us a stellar movie, having a memorable story to work with and two actresses ready to give their all to the material. Here, he is working with a story that would have been solved in 30 minutes on Gilligan’s Island, performed by actors cashing a paycheck until something better comes along.
The Vow was a big hit with the audience members at the screening I attended earlier this week. From the noises they made, I assume they were there to watch Tatum walk around shirtless for scenes at a time, and for the one ass shot that they included. The ladies did not leave disappointed. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, knock yourself out; me, I’ll pop in Stop Loss, wait for 21 Jump Street to be released in a few weeks, and hope for the best.