Sony // 2012 // 104 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 17th, 2012
Inspired by true events.
Love never dies, it only forgets, until a really hot guy saves you from your dysfunctional family and turbulent memories.
Or at least that's the lesson I took away from Sony's The Vow, now available in a Blu-ray.
Leo (Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street) and Paige (Rachel McAdams, Midnight in Paris) are a happily married couple living in downtown Chicago. Leo owns a fledgling recording studio, while Paige spends her time sculpting in a large warehouse, living in an apartment only Donald Trump could afford (natch). While out one snowy evening, Paige and Leo are involved in a terrible car accident that throws Paige through the windshield. When she awakes in the hospital, she remembers nothing about the car accident, or that she has been married to Leo for over a year. Eighteen months have been wiped clean from her memory, leaving Paige distraught and Leo confused. Paige's estranged parents (Jurassic Park's Sam Neil and Big Fish's Jessica Lange) come to her rescue, hoping to take her home to restart a relationship that fizzled a few years back for reasons soon to be unfurled. Leo takes his wedding vows seriously and decides he has two options: lose his wife forever, or attempt a major comeback by rebuilding their relationship from ground zero.
What would you do if your spouse suddenly didn't know you? How hard and long would you fight for your relationship? To what lengths would you go to rekindle the fire that once burned so brightly? Fear not! Every answer you've ever needed for this situation (which, experts say happens at least once in every two marriages) is provided by The Vow! See? And you thought Hollywood was useless!
The Vow was "inspired by true events," but don't let that fool you -- it's still pure 100% Hollywood romance hooey. It's the story of impossibly good looking people with bottomless pocketbooks going through catastrophic events only to end up on the other side of their tragedy better off than before. If you cry foul, when I tell you that everyone ends up happy at the end, you haven't been paying attention to cinema for the last one hundred years.
You know the old cliché "You can't make this stuff up!"? That actually applies to The Vow. This plot device that could have easily come from a Nicholas Sparks' book. The film is based on the real life couple Kim and Krickitt Carpenter; Krickitt was involved in an accident that wiped her memory clean, forcing her husband to start from scratch (and she never regained those memories). As much as I want to ridicule the plot, the fact remains that it actually happened and the tale is quite jaw dropping.
I have to admit, the film never bored me. I was always fascinated where the story was going, even though I would have bet my bottom dollar where it would eventually end up (and I would have won that bet). I was curious how Leo was going to reignite a spark that had not only dimmed but was essentially snuffed out. Channing Tatum is an actor whose chiseled good looks could easily get in the way of character and plot, but I found him likable to a fault. He's so nice a guy, I began to wonder if he was going to rush into a phone booth and turn into Superman. Rachel McAdams is a rare actress who radiates down-to-earth beauty. Unfortunately, her character begins to irritate after the accident. Starting as a bubbly artist, she reverts to being a bratty rich kid whose attitude gets in the way of earning audience sympathy. It doesn't ruin the movie, but it does make for a less relatable character.
The supporting cast is given little do but look worried, angry, or surprised that Leo sticks around (the guy's about as popular with Paige's family as a booger on a cupcake). Sam Neil radiates snake oil charm as Paige's father, a man who will end up with a secret because...well, movies like this need a character with a secret to make them seem weighty. Jessica Lange, as Paige's mother, gives an impassioned speech that truly moved me, but spends the rest of the story in the shadows. Scott Speedman (Underworld) plays Paige's ex-fiancé who, conveniently enough, is still hanging out with her family years after they've broken up. No bonus points for guessing that he shows up to try and win back the woman who's now forgotten why they broke up in the first place. There are a few other minor characters -- mutual friends of Leo and Paige who wear chic, trendy clothes, top hats at weddings, and radiate self-impertinence -- but they aren't interesting enough to mention by name.
I don't have much more praise or scorn to heap on The Vow. It's one of those genre films that's exactly what it professes to be -- a romance about two people who learn that love conquers all, fate is eternal, roses smell pretty, sex is never awkward, and whatever the hell else people in these kinds of movies discover. In the same way that horror fans like any Friday the 13th film purely because it exists (and fills some weird movie void we've never understood), The Vow ends up on the same shelf. It's light, airy entertainment that's no better and no worse than other romantic drama.
Presented in 2.40:1/1080p high definition widescreen, Sony offers up a fantastic transfer, with an image that's crystal clear but still retains a nice cinematic appearance (some filmic grain is present, but its warmth works in the context of the film). The colors are bright and the city of Chicago looks stunning (how they got that shot of Millennium Park's Bean without cameras getting in the way is almost mind-boggling). The DTS-HD Master 5.1 Audio mix is uniformly excellent. Though not a bombastic feast for the ears -- after all, this is a dialogue heavy experience -- it supports the film with well-placed ambience and finely tuned effects (especially during the car crash sequence).
Bonus features include an audio commentary by director Michael Sucsy, six minutes of deleted scenes (presented in 1080p high def), a few short featurettes ("Til Death Do They Part," "Profiles in Love," "Trying to Remember"), a gag reel, and a standard def DVD copy.
The Vow is a middle-of-the-road romantic drama. While entertaining, it still adheres to the most basic of story clichés.
Released on its own recognizance.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Czech)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Russian)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Turkish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Ukrainian)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* DVD Copy
* Official Site