Schmaltz and Sap in The Vow

A vow– as defined by– is “a solemn promise, pledge or personal commitment.” With Valentine’s Day a few short days away, many married couples will likely be thinking about their own wedding vows. Fortunately, most couples won’t have to overcome the obstacle that Kim and Krickett Carpenter had to face in real life. When the couple was in a car accident, Krickett lost her all of the memories of her husband and Kim had to win back the woman he once married. “The Vow” tells their story.

Unfortunately, though, the drama settles for schmaltz and clichés over uniqueness and personality so real-life couples will probably want to steer clear.

As “The Vow” begins, Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are deeply in love. They depart a movie theater, seemingly inseparable. Their night, however, takes a drastic turn when their vehicle is hit by another car– leaving Leo physically injured and Paige’s life changed forever. She can’t remember that Leo is her husband. In fact, she can’t remember her relationship with Leo at all.

Her mind reverts back to when she was studying law in college– a time when she was closer to her parents and engaged to another man.

Despite her parent’s disapproval and Paige’s opportunistic former fiancé, Leo starts his relationship with her over again trying to woo her like he once did. Trying to maintain the vow that he made to her during a romantic wedding ceremony.

The story’s fatal flaw, however, is that it takes a unique story and adds in all of the cliched obstacles that usually appear in movies like this. There are Paige’s parents—played by Sam Neill and Jessica Lange—who immediately dislike Leo, after meeting him for the first time in the hospital. Paige’s father even tells Leo at one point that he should get a divorce! Much of the tension with the parents, it should be noted, were added for dramatic effect, not because they are part of the true-life story.

Of course, with the disapproving parents, there’s also the “other man” who stands in the way on the main couple. In this situation, that man is Jeremy, played by Scott Speedman. Although Paige and Jeremy broke up a long time ago, he sees an opportunity in Paige’s amnesia to reconnect.

Added to those inane plot devices, the story is full of contrived schmaltzy moments that should leave viewers rolling their eyes. Both Paige and Leo—for instance—wrote their wedding vows on restaurant menus but didn’t realize that until the ceremony—how cute! Also, when he passes gas in a car, she closes the window. Okay, that last part isn’t cute. It’s just disgusting. But the film tries so hard with these mushy moments that it’s sometimes unbearable to watch.

To be sure, the story’s premise has value and many women will likely appreciate the idea of a married man making his wife fall in love with him again. But that is all this story offers. None of the characters is particularly interesting and the plot is trite and predictable. People should take a vow not to see this movie.

“The Vow” is rated PG-13 for some nudity and sexual content. It also contains some profanity and an intense sequence that shows the car accident.


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