You never get a second chance to make a first impression, but apparently you can fall in love with the same person twice, because that’s exactly what happens to the most ‘gooey-in-love’ couple in Chicago, in director Michael Sucsy’s The Vow.
After being married for four years and living a decidedly bohemian life (she’s a sculptor, he runs a hipster recording studio), a late night car crash lands Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) in the hospital. He recovers, but she spends several weeks in a coma, only to wake up with no short-term memory; she thinks he’s her doctor.
As it happens, Paige had scrapped her upper-class, white bread life of law school and being engaged to Jeremy (Scott Speedman) just before she met Leo the first time. But now those are the only memories she has. And that’s welcome news to her estranged parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange), who see it as a chance to bring her back home, literally.
Of course, that leaves little room for Leo in her life, and despite his undying patience, she just can’t wrap her head around being with a person who she has no memory of even meeting.
Loosely inspired by the real-life story of Kim and Krickett Carpenter, The Vow is ripped straight from the Nicholas Sparks playbook. Leo and Paige are both about the prettiest things you’ve ever seen (and, yes, he spends more time shirtless than clothed), there are plenty of super-sweet moments (he asks her to move in by spelling it out in blueberries during breakfast), and the tension is kept at such a low level that you won’t doubt for a moment that these two will be able find their way through this mess and find love again.
Tatum and McAdams share a pretty decent chemistry (or lack thereof, when it’s needed), but she is so completely radiant and charming that she actually swipes the movie right out from under him. And Neill and Lange are both fine in their roles, but they’re done a huge disservice by the screenplay (credited to no less than five people) which relegates them both to little more than snake oil salesmen.
Sucsy (HBO’s Grey Gardens) does a fine job putting together the requisite mid-February date movie, and it’s doubtful anyone (especially those of the female persuasion) will leave the theater disappointed, but with a little more thought, The Vow could have made quite an impression.