The Vow

Against all conceivable odds, the damn thing finds a way of working on a fundamental level.

The VowWhile I’m not particularly proud of saying this, The Vow somehow rises above an otherwise sordid mess. I must say from the beginning that if you don’t secretly love Channing Tatum, and I don’t, there will be multiple occasions when you will be tempted to leave the theater early in the film. However, I must encourage you to resist that temptation as the film does find a strange way of finding a way to rally around the flag.

On a distinct downside, only the Twilight movies will spend this much time on a leading star appearing constantly without a shirt. While I really don’t know if either Taylor Lautner or Mr. Channing can credibly act, they do find a way of repeatedly revealing a bulky torso that is likely to make all men profoundly jealous. And for what it is worth, I’ve got to admit that I am one of them.

But shirt or no shirt, Tatum’s character, Leo, is a rather dull character who somehow wins the love of his future wife, Paige, played by the admittedly gorgeous Rachel McAdams. Thank God for the traffic accident that caused her to lose her memory, as this foolish little device allowed the otherwise tenuous plot to develop a bit of interest.

An art student and amateur sculptor while living with her husband, Ms. McAdams can now only remember her life when she was a law student living with her family. An old love played by Scott Speedman reenters the picture, and the film proceeds to give the legal profession a lousy name.

To make matters worse, her parents, played by Sam Neill and Jessica Lange, are an arrogantly insufferable duo doing little more than trying to reclaim their formerly lost daughter. I truly admire Mr. Neill, particularly given prior recognizable performances, but he is little more than a dreadful character here. As for Ms. Lange, the less said the better.

More to the point, Ms. McAdams plays her brain-damaged wife in much the same wonderful fashion as she made the sanctimonious The Notebook (2004) watchable. On the other hand, I think that women should be terribly worried about this film, as it helps men discover how they are able to continually extricate themselves from unfortunate relationships. Hell, all they have to do is bang their head on the windshield of a car and thereafter look at their spouse and say, “Who are you?”

Regardless, The Vow admittedly gains increasing traction as the film reaches a conclusion. Despite the fact that we are forced to watch a wedding reception with Ms. McAdams’ sister that is mind numbingly regrettable beyond words, the relationship of Mr. Tatum and Ms. McAdams evolves into an admittedly interesting struggle.

Quite frankly, it is that relationship that salvages the film, and it abandons many of the unfortunate scenes along the way to allow you to embrace a couple who are simply trying to see if they could fall in love again. Yes, it is largely a forgettable film, but you could do a helluva lot worse.