When I first saw a trailer for The Vow, I was amazed that I didn’t immediately vomit but was instead intrigued. I am not what most would consider a “girly-girl,” so romantic comedies and especially romantic dramas are not really my thing. I need there to be blood, guts, people dying, action, robots, nudity, severed limbs, wizards; and of course dwarves will get me every time. But somehow I felt compelled to see this movie. I’m not even really a fan of Channing Tatum. There is something wrong with the spacing of his facial features and his ears are weird. I think what appealed to me were the little quips between Tatum and Rachel McAdams that were shown in the trailer. That kind of humor seemed, well, cute. And for some godforsaken reason I felt like seeing cute.
Every time you go to see a movie, try as you might, your mood will impact how you respond to the film. Whether it be that you have high expectations and the movie just doesn’t meet them, or your expectations are so low that even if the poop on the screen moves an inch during the 90 minutes you’re forced to watch it that it becomes entertaining, outside forces are affecting your response. Or maybe you’re on a blind date to see a film, and it turns out the person is really hot and into you, then again maybe you just had a fight with your spouse and are seeing a movie by yourself. Again you will have preformed emotions that will influence what you are about to experience.
This seems like it would be especially true in the case of romantic movies. Everybody has experiences with relationships. The Dark Knight is immensely fun to watch, but like it or not it’s easier to empathize with the poor schmuck getting dumped. Really it just means that this genre is more likely to hit home with you, which can be either good or bad, depending on your emotional state. I say all this nonsense because when I first saw the trailer I was in a happy place and associated good emotions with the film. But when I was actually in the theatre ready to watch The Vow, two things happened that really pissed me off and probably impacted my reception of the film.
First of all, you should know that I attended a press screening and sat in the press section. This means that I should be sitting next to people who are there for the same reason as me: to pay attention to the movie enough to be able to interpret it later and review it. I understand that in press screenings they let in non-press to also see the movie, but everyone in the press seats at least should be representing a media outlet. This would also cause me to assume that these same people would have some respect for those that are there for the same reasons, as in THEIR JOBS. As my luck would have it, The Vow was one of the most crowded screenings I’ve ever been to, and I was lucky (cough) enough to sit next to a guy who had his girlfriend’s feet propped up on his lap WITH HER SHOES OFF. Feel free to pause for a moment and picture how gross it would be to know that some stranger’s feet are like two inches from your soda. Relax further and try to imagine the sound of his skin scraping against hers as he slowly rubs her feet. Now picture that for 104 minutes.
Back to me in the screening as I pray to Zeus that they’ll realize how inconsiderate this intimate and disgusting act is in a crowded theatre. The movie hasn’t even started, so my “plus one” and I take our phones out to silence them. All of a sudden we hear this giant bellow, “NO PHONES IN THE SCREENING! I’LL THROW YOU OUTTA’ HERE!” My plus one says, “We’re turning them off! Sheesh.” Keep in mind the lights haven’t even dimmed and people are still finding seats in the theatre. Then this guy has the audacity to ask, “Are you even press?” Excuse me? Are you serious? Are you even security, bub?! I looked around me and realized that we did look a little out of place; about thirty years younger and our skin quite a bit more inked up than the old, non-tattooed people around us. But that infuriated me even more, and I flashed back to all the times I have ever encountered grief for being younger than some or for having tattoos. Just thinking about it now burns my buttons.
So yes, this was the state of mind I was in when the lights dimmed and I was introduced to the whirlwind perfect soul-matching romance of Tatum and McAdams. The beginning of the movie shows Tatum doing all the right things to win over McAdams. They are quickly married in quirky ceremony, and in a short movie time-span show us the life they’ve built together. BAM – car accident, and now McAdams has amnesia. The last thing she remembers is way-back-when, with a whole different set of friends, a whole different career and a whole different plan for the future. Doctors recommend that she get back into the routine of her current life, but it becomes too uncomfortable for and foreign to McAdams so she goes to live with her parents. Drama ensues, nail-biting commences as the rest of the movie seems to build towards them not getting back together, and then it ends on a hope-note.
It took a while, but eventually I was able to get into the movie and really try to empathize with McAdams (I have to feel for the girl, right?). The same kind of cute, nervous jokes that caught my eye in the trailer were present throughout the film, which was a plus. And I have to admit, Tatum really won me over. I’ve never seen him appear so vulnerable or so human. His love and his pain were perfectly palpable, and that was I think the strong-point of the movie for me. I ended up identifying more with Tatum than McAdams, though; most of the movie is spent with him trying to make her fall in love with him again but she seems to fight it every step of the way. It was rather unique to see the girl causing the hurt and the guy getting his heart broken (don’t worry, it’s Hollywood, of course they get back together in the end).
McAdams’ character seemed so harsh at times that I stopped caring about her early in the movie, and I almost wanted them to not be soul-mates. I guess part of her attitude can be blamed on her parents, played well by Sam Neill and the always impressive (and lately very creepy no matter what role she’s in, which I love) Jessica Lange. I’ll admit, I ended up crying in parts. But again it was out of sympathy for Tatum’s character. The love of his life loses her memory and he becomes a stranger to her. It’s so hard to love and find love in real life, so to see someone find it then lose it and have to fight for it was tough. And the guy does everything right in this movie. He makes one or two mistakes but they are because he’s trying too hard to help his wife try to remember the parts of her life that she now has no recollection of. And don’t usually guys try to get their minds off one girl by drinking and/or picking up on other girls? Tatum never goes that route, and that was pretty interesting.
Despite my mood going into the film and my experiences at the screening, I feel like there just wasn’t enough depth to the film to make it anything more than forgettable. The set-up of the couple’s meeting and ensuing romance flew by, and most of the movie was spent feeling sorry for the guy and shaking my head at what a bitch the girl was being. Then at the end, I swear within the last three minutes, all of a sudden the girl is going back to her normal self and there’s a hint that the relationship can be rebuilt. Sure, it’s based on a true story, and maybe that’s what actually happened, but really? That’s all you’ve got? I suppose though that this is the reason I’m not a fan of “chick-flicks” or romance movies in general. The only thing I did enjoy were little jokes here-and-there and the performances of Tatum and Lange, which were all good enough to not make me regret seeing the film, but I probably won’t ever watch it again. I’ll give it 2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls. I think I’ll go watch Frankenhooker to get back into my realm of romance.