The Vow (Michael Sucsy, 2012)
It’s Valentine’s Day, folks, which means it's time for a new contest that I thought up literally one minute ago: y'all have the rest of the day to comment on this post or email us or Facebook us or tweet at us (good Lord I have a lot of outlets) and tell us why you should be the Official Valentine of the Blog (VOTB)! The winner will receive a shoutout in the next post and a signed picture of me crying.
Category: Sad Valentine’s Day Weekend movie. This movie made over $40 million at the box office this weekend. The price we men pay for the possibility of a little post-film business. Smh.
This is, of course, a sad film about amnesia. I think I’ve written about my fear of amnesia on the blog before, but I can’t remember. I know, right? Anyway, if I did, it would have had to do with The Muppets Take Manhattan and how that movie is terrifying to kids who don’t know that amnesia exists. It’s no big deal. We don’t need to talk about it anymore.
My familiarity with this issue: At last, we are finally getting the full taste of sad that we merely nibbled at when the trailer for this film was released back in November. I don’t know how we made it here alive.
My favorite part about this whole thing is the fact that everyone seems to assume this is a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. FOTB Ben Vipond sent me a blog post about the film and its hilariously bad reviews that basically just assumed that the movie was based on a Sparks novel, and referred to it throughout the post as such. (Here it is, BTW – it’s since been updated to correct the error.)
It’s an easy mistake to make, for a bunch of reasons: the marketing of the film, as detailed in our NMS take, which totally played up its leads’ Sparks bona fides; the Valentine’s Day Weekend release; and the fact that the title is a singular noun after the word “The” (The Notebook, The Rescue, The Guardian, The Wedding, The Choice, and that’s not even mentioning The Lastsong). I think even the real people on whose lives this film is based will forgive us for making that mistake. It’s like fake butter in the butter aisle. The difference is negligible.
Devotees will know my love for the female lead of this film, the lovely Rachel McAdams, but it’s important to note that the blog’s view on male lead Channing Tatum is evolving. (FOTB Pat Ambrosio, who may soon be developing a spinoff of the blog, to be entitled Taste My Tatum, will no doubt be overjoyed at this fact.) At first I dismissed Tatum as a ‘roided-out freak with the widest neck I had ever seen. And I’m not wrong about that, but… he is fairly charming! I thought he did a fine job on SNL, and 21 Jump Street looks like it might be pretty good. (He will also be in every other movie released this year.) Sure, maybe the man should enunciate more, but at a certain point it doesn’t really schlubcsusushahsbcsbs.
So! Two stars I either really like or kind of like. A silly trailer involving hijinks in a museum. A secondtrailer featuring the song “Enchated” by FOTB Taylor Swift. What’s not to like? I’ve got high hopes, folks!
Plot summary yoinked from IMDb: “A car accident puts Paige (McAdams) in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo (Tatum) works to win her heart again.”
What I thought of the movie: Here’s what sucks. I write the first parts of these blog posts before I see the movies. Sometimes I set up a little joke there, like a cliffhanger, before the plot summary. It’s one of my bits. And y'all see what I just did there, right? I was gonna say something like, “Yeah no that didn’t work out,” because obviously I didn’t actually think it was going to be any good.
But it wasn’t that bad. And that just ruined everything.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I liked The Vow. But I liked certain things about it, some of them way more than I thought I would. (I can only blame this on the fact that I have already written a blog post ridiculing it. But of course I was only ridiculing the way the film was marketed, and not the film itself. Which is an important distinction, all things considered.) Anyway. It was a bit simplistic and occasionally howl-inducing, but all in all it was just another mediocre film. Not nearly the calamity I was hoping it would be. (Plus, Channing Tatum's bare ass is involved. And I gotta tell you, it's a nice ass. I couldn't even get mad about it.)
It wasn’t awful because the story was not as conventional as I expected it to be. The tension in the film comes less from Rachel McAdams losing her memory and more from her PRE-FILM TRANSFORMATION: we learn that her character was once a rich whitey-white girl law student from the Chicago suburbs, and that she was engaged to some haircut played by Scott Speedman. At some point, she broke off contact with her folks, dropped out of law school and moved into the city to be a hipster artist type with Channing Tatum. But when she wakes up from her accident, her most recent memories are from the aforementioned rich whitey-white girl days, and so basically she has to choose between Channing Tatum, who she doesn’t remember, and her comfortable pre-hipster life. (We’ll talk about the hipster stuff later.) As plot contrivances go, it’s not all that objectionable.
The problem is that Rachel McAdams’s character is thoroughly unlikeable. For a while, we sympathize with her, because, you know, of the amnesia and all. But the choices she makes as the film progresses are just really annoying and dumb. If it weren't for the fact that I love Rachel McAdams, despite her recent proclivity for playing unsympathetic characters (see also: Midnight in Paris), I’d have been loudly rooting against her and rooting for Channing Tatum, who is just legit and cool for most of the time, to find some new hip girl to bed. Like, even Lana del Rey would have been preferable at certain parts of this movie.
But I don’t know! Somehow it kind of almost works. It’s not great, and it’s not deep, but it held my interest. It was better than your standard Sparks, to be sure.
How I related to the movie: OK the hipster thing. I’m not a fan. I feel like the hipster thing was in the script long before Tatum was attached, like when they were hoping for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to be in this. Or at least someone considerably more pencil-necked. So they have these three friends who wore stupid hats and clothes and acted dumb and I wanted them all to die. And that presented an issue, because McAdams’s choice, therefore, was between a soulless, Stepford Wives suburban nightmare, and an episode of New Girl. Which is a choice none of us should have to make. Luckily, they basically wrote out the friends as the film continued and focused more on Tatum’s earnestness, which was nice.
Here are some other things that were annoying, but somehow didn’t lead me to think that this was the worst film of all time as I had expected to:
- This is the hat that Channing Tatum wears when he and McAdams meet. I don’t even have anything to say.
- After she’s released from the hospital and reluctantly comes back home with him, he throws her a big surprise party with all of their hipster friends that she doesn’t remember. First of all, maybe having a bunch of people lie in wait to yell “SURPRISE” at someone who’s recovering from a massive head trauma isn’t the best idea. And second of all, UGHH GET THESE HIPSTERS OUTTTTT.
- In the hospital, Rachel McAdams says to Channing Tatum, “I just wanted to verify a few things about me.” Which made me burst out laughing.
- They make it very, very easy to hate the characters from McAdams’s past. Too easy. Sam Neill was just barely less evil than Chris Cooper’s character from The Muppets.
- There’s some really terrible voiceover narration (covered in the post about the trailer). And I know I’ve said it dozens of times, but it’s worth nothing again how mumbly Channing Tatum is. He makes Tom Waits sound like the Cake Boss.
How I felt after the movie ended: God this is one of those where it seems like I hated it much more than I did. But I swear, sitting in that theater, I was able to overlook a lot of this shit. I can’t rationally explain it.
This all raises a lot of questions. Am I beginning to think that Channing Tatum is the next Stallone (like good early Stallone, basically Stallone in Rocky)? Am I still crushing hard on Rachel McAdams even as she actively tries to make me and the rest of America mad? Am I losing my edge? That’s not for me to say. All I can say is that I almost liked The Vow. Almost. I'm not sure what I should do now.