Monday, February 20, 2012

How do you look at the one you love and tell yourself it's time to walk away.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

For the most part I tend to hate romance movies. They all ooze cheese from every pore, are usually shoddily written and acted and for the most part lack any redeeming value whatsoever, yet will sell out faster than a Madonna concert. There are exceptions to the rule (i.e The Notebook, Casablanca ect) but for the most part they are a chore to sit through and are usually the most predictable films of the year.

The newest film your girlfriend or spouse will most likely drag you to is the Michael Sucsy (the Emmy award winning Grey Gardens remake is his only credit) written and directed film "The Vow." The Vow is inspired by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, who experienced the same thing that Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) experienced and judging by the trailer, poster and stills I thought this film was going to be terrible. But a few of my friends said it was good and generally we tend to have the same taste in films, so I went with a group consisting of my mother, her friends and myself and surprisingly The Vow isn't all that bad. It's by no means great and it certainly has it's downfalls, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it.
The film follows Paige and Leo, a newly married couple, who are involved in a terrible car accident. Leo gets some minor injuries but Paige is ejected out of the car through the windshield and suffers some pretty traumatic brain injuries. When she eventually wakes up from her coma though, she can't remember Leo or any of her life before dropping out of law school to become an artist (around the time she met Leo). Leo is obviously devastated but instead of pouting he decides to do his damnedest to help her regain her memories, or at least the memories of their love because when he said he'd love her forever, he meant it.

The general idea of the story works and for the most part when it's focused on Leo helping Paige get back to normal the film is good. It's all the other things the film throws into the story that hinder the film. Useless side plots (an ex-fiancee story that goes nowhere) weird characterization (her parents manipulate her and try to mold her into their image), and a whole lot of going nowhere scenes drag down and pad out what otherwise is a touching story of love. Whenever it deviated I felt like groaning and multiple times I found myself screaming "What?" in my head wondering if the writers forgot to take Screenwriting 101.
Usually when there is such mediocre writing I tend to give up on the film and call it a dud. But where this film shines, and where I'm able to forgive SOME of the screenplay's problems, is in the acting. Tatum gives a career best performance and actually made me feel emotions and genuinely care about his character. Umm...what? Where was this Tatum for the past couple years (Dear John especially)? I guess my theory about Tatum getting better as an actor is true. Granted he still has a ways to go before he reaches greatness but if you do well in a movie I'm damn sure going to point it out and Tatum deserves credit where credit is due. McAdams also delivers the goods and plays the amnesiac role quite well. Usually it's easy for an actor to go full cheese whenever they get amnesia but McAdams plays it well and you actually feel her struggle, even if she has a tendency to kind of repeat certain things ad nauseum from time to time. Sam Neil and Jessica Lange round out the cast and they both do fine jobs as well. It's nice to see Neil more active lately, as he has great delivery and can play a sly but lovable character almost better than anyone. And Lange has been on fire this year and she has one scene in this film that would have been eye rollingly bad if it had been any other actress. But she delivers on that scene and you can tell that she's giving it her all.

Overall The Vow is an above average romance film with great acting but mediocre writing. Honestly I probably won't remember this film six months from now but in terms of a date movie, you could really do a lot worse. If nothing else you get to see Tatum steadily improve in his craft and honestly that was worth it enough for me.

MY VERDICT: RENT IT (2.5 out of 5) 

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