Channing Tatum – who recently bored audiences with his stilted performance in Haywire (2012) – and Rachel McAdams – star of Woody Allen’s Oscar-nominated Midnight in Paris (2011) – pair up for the appropriately-timed release of Michael Sucsy’s romantic drama The Vow (2012). Paige (McAdams) and Leo (Tatum) are a happily married, arty couple living a loved-up lifestyle until they are both involved in a devastating car crash. Leo survives relatively unscathed, whereas Paige awakens from her coma with no memory of her life with Leo. Devastated, Leo sets out to regain the love of the woman he married.
As a romance, The Vow functions perfectly adequately despite all of its clichéd plot points and irritating, cutesy jokes. Tatum’s performance is one of his better to date, although the idea of him as a record studio-owning musician is highly unbelievable. What does become irksome is the constant name-dropping of bands and musical trends in an attempt to fashion Leo as cool and contemporary – the mind boggles as to why Sucsy would make a decision that will leave the movie looking dated within a matter of months.
The lovable McAdams offers an enjoyable performance and balances the two sides of Paige’s personality well. This is especially true of her performance as the preppy Stepford daughter to Sam Neill, who plays her father Bill. Jessica Lang, who is grossly underused as Paige’s controlling yet devoted mother Rita, is also excellent if a little underdeveloped. Sadly, the rest of the cast are totally unremarkable and forgettable as a gaggle of clichés and stereotypes.
The Vow provides everything that it says on the tin – schmaltzy moments, generic soundtrack, adequate-to-good performances and a predictable plot. It entertains and rolls along, keeping up the pace by hanging on the question of ‘will-they-won’t-they’, in relation to rekindling their romance. The memory loss narrative has already been explored before in 2004 weepy The Notebook, which means that the film is really not doing anything new or interesting – but what it does, it does efficiently. However, for a plot that is jam-packed with moments designed to make you reach for the tissues, it never quite pulls it off – a fact equally true of the comic sequences.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, The Vow will no doubt perform well at the box office and make for a safe choice for first dates, but don’t expect great things – there are much more enjoyable romantic dramas out there.