Michael Sucsy’s The Vow is a lot like one of those big heart-shaped boxes of chocolates that crop up in stores at this time of year: glossy, eye-catching, selling the promise of easy pre-packaged romance, or at least romantic duty fulfilled. And it’s about as satisfying. The packaging is all very well, but the contents are a little too waxy and the flavors a little too artificial. The Vow is one of those “inspired by a true story” things as concerns its premise, but in reality it feels more “inspired by Nicholas Sparks.” The idea of a couple in a car wreck where the wife comes to and is unable to remember her husband — in fact, the past few years of her life — is reasonably promising, but the screenplay, direction, and acting (or maybe the casting) does very little to deliver on that promise. It’s completely played for sap and calculated cuteness. Casting really works against the film, at least in the case of Channing Tatum as Leo. It’s not just that I have a basic aversion to leading men whose necks are bigger than their heads (though I do). It’s more the simple fact that nothing about Tatum even remotely suggests he’s part of the film’s art world milieu, or any art world milieu anywhere. In fact, he looks slightly baffled by the whole thing, like he wandered onto the set by accident and doesn’t know what to do. The Vow is awash in simple melodrama (oh, those hateful parents played by Jessica Lange and Sam Neill) and scads of General Foods International Coffee commercials-looking shorthand romantic moments. None of it feels real. All of it feels contrived.
Director: Michael Sucsy
Writer: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Jason Katims and Stuart Sender
Producer: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman and Paul Taublieb
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Sam Neill, Scott Speedman, Jessica Lange, Jessica McNamee, Dillon Casey, Rachel Skarsten and Brittney Irvin