Valentine’s Day is this Tuesday, so if you and your significant other want to take in a romantic movie, you pretty much have to see The Vow. (I know – freakish oversight by studios much?) There are probably a lot of guys out there groaning at this news, because although The Vow isn’t based on a Nicholas Sparks book, that’s probably only because Nicholas Sparks didn’t hear about the true life event in time to write a book before the movie people jumped on it. It’s your standard tragic-romantic theme bent around a medical condition.
After injuring her brain in a car accident, an artist cannot remember the last five years of her life, including marrying her musician husband Leo, who must now try to get her to fall in love with him all over again.
Usually these movies are so dripping in sap that they make me want to vomit and end up playing on the Hallmark channel on Sundays, but this one isn’t too bad. There were only a few parts that made me roll my eyes. I’m not saying it’s going to appeal to anyone who doesn’t like romantic movies, because it won’t. Those people should go to One for the Money. But it’s pretty decent for what it is.
The movie opens with a happy, smoochy married couple, Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) driving home from a movie and singing along to a terrible meatloaf song. They’re an artist and a musician, which means they’ve got kind of a quirky/flakey vibe going on, and they apparently think that their love will protect them from lampposts, because Paige thinks nothing of taking her seatbelt off so she can smooch better and ends up flying through windshield when they’re rear-ended by a sand truck in a snowstorm.
Let this be a lesson to you, lovebirds: wear your damn seatbelt.
Leo, who kept his seatbelt on, is fine, but Paige is in a coma for days while the swelling in her brain goes down. When they finally wake her up, she seems fine until she mistakes Leo for her doctor, even though he’s standing there in civilian clothes and there’s a woman in scrubs right next to him.
What, she’s a woman in scrubs, so that must mean she’s a nurse?
Shortly afterward her parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) and sister Gwen (Jessica McNamee) show up in a cloud of snootyness to snatch her out of the clutches of her unsuitable husband and take her home to their mansion in the suburbs. Unfortunately she DOES remember them, going to law school, the ugly sweater sets she used to wear, and her ex-fiancé Jeremy (Scott Speedman) who seems like he’s going to be a major complication but doesn’t really show up more than three or four times.
They just put my smarmy face in the trailer for the sake of conflict.
Most of the conflict, however, is between Leo and Paige, because while Leo remembers everything about Paige and her life, Paige doesn’t remember Leo at all – not being married to him, not the apartment they live in, not even the sculptures she made that Leo admires so much. As far as she’s concerned he’s living in a fantasy with a person who doesn’t exist, and that’s annoying. After all, he could be a serial killer or something!
Except for the fact that the woman with the hideous veil in Leo’s wedding video has her face.
They go back and forth on this for a while, Leo insisting that she try to remember or that they can pick up where she left off, and Paige looking at him like he’s a weirdo stranger and wanting to go home to her sweater sets and yuppie family. Eventually (like, halfway through the movie) Leo realizes that her memory is probably not going to come back and decides that he has to make her fall in love with him all over again. So he asks her on a “first date” and they do a bunch of fun cute things and make out for a bit.
I may not remember you but you are hella cute.
This is what the trailer leads us to believe is the main thrust of the film – the two of them falling in love all over again, but actually they only really go on that one date. Instead, the movie is about Paige trying to figure out who she is and trying to reconcile the sweater set person she remembers with the sculptor who married an adorable dork in a silly hat. To fill in the spaces where they’re not dating, the writers inserted some scenes of the first time they fell in love, presumably so we wouldn’t get bored and wander off.
If this is a flashback, than I guess we can’t blame the car accident for Leo’s lack of chest hair.
The central question is whether she’ll fall in love with Leo again or not, but in order to get there they first have to answer the question of whether Paige will find her way back to the person she once was – the flighty artist who lives in the city or the sweater set wearing suburban law student. I won’t tell you how it goes.
But if you have more than one functioning brain cell you can probably figure it out.
The central question of this review is whether you should go see this movie for Valentine’s Day. The answer is yes. It’s pretty good, not too sappy, and there’s eye candy for you no matter which way your predilection runs. However, it’s also the only obviously romantic movie in the rotation, so if you’re going to go, buy your tickets early. Like right now. Because it WILL sell out.
They could call it “Channing Tatum Wears a Dorky Hat” and it would still sell out,
because there are no other options.
If you get to the theater and can’t get a ticket, or you just don’t want to see a full-on romance, you could see a sneak preview of This Means War if your theater is getting it (we are). I also recommend One for the Money, which I went to on Friday when I couldn’t get into The Vow. It’s quotably hilarious, has a romantic undercurrent, some nudity (almost), and you get to watch Katherine Heigl get shot in the ass. Now that’s what I call a good movie!
“That sweatshirt makes you look like the unibomber.”
If you plan to stay home for Valentine’s Day and you DON’T want to rent a sapfest like The Notebook click here to see a list of Valentine’s Day movies for the rest of us.