Friday, March 9, 2012

The Vow

Starring: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Scott Speedman, Sam Neill, Jessica Lange
Director: Michael Sucsy
Running Time: PG-13
Rating: 1 hour, 44 minutes

I first fell in love with Channing Tatum when he graced the screen in “Step Up.” I’ve loved him since, in “She’s the Man” and “Dear John,” and I’m eagerly anticipating “21 Jump Street.” Similarly, I’ve had a girl crush on Rachel McAdams since her days in “Mean Girls” and “Wedding Crashers,” so I figured the two of them on-screen would be a match made in heaven. Though the story seemed like a Nicholas Sparks romance, it’s actually based on true events. It’s terrifying that something this tragic could actually happen. With a solid supporting cast, Tatum and McAdams shine in this date-worthy movie, and it definitely exceeded my expectations.

Paige and Leo are a happy, bohemian couple residing in Chicago. Paige is a sculptor, while Leo runs a music studio, and the two could not be more in love. I was in love with them, except for the fact that Channing Tatum is not a believable hipster. I love a hipster more than many things in life, but don’t try to make Channing something he’s not. Keep him in a wife-beater tank top (see photo) or Calvin Klein boxer briefs, not a fedora and plaid shirt. Apologies for the tangent. They have funny sidekick friends, as all rom-coms have, though these characters weren’t as developed as I would have liked. Paige and Leo are obviously soul mates, though they “agree to disagree about red velvet cake” – I was curious as to which one of them didn’t like it…and how that’s possible.    
After a devastating car wreck, Paige has no memory of the last 4 years of her life: her life with Leo. He is absolutely destroyed that she doesn’t remember him, and it’s hard for him to understand that she’d rather be with her estranged parents than her own husband. He begins to lose patience when she shoots down all of his attempts at restoring their life together. Meanwhile, she resorts to who she was pre-Leo: a preppy, society girl who left law school on a whim to pursue art. She doesn’t remember why she alienated herself from her family, but the audience is aware that something strange happened which ignited the feud. Sam Neill and Jessica Lange are well cast as over-bearing, upper-class parents, who work at keeping Paige’s past 4 years a mystery, just as hard as Leo works at helping her remember them.

As Paige spends more time with her ex-boyfriend Jeremy than Leo, it eats away at their already dwindling marriage. Scott Speedman of “Felicity” fame plays Jeremy, and I found him more likeable than the director probably intended. If I’m being totally honest, it almost felt like he and McAdams had more on-screen chemistry.

Jessica McNamee plays Paige’s sensitive and empathetic sister, who sees Leo’s charm and understands why her sister fell for him. She begins encouraging Paige to give their marriage a chance, while her parents continue to push her into the arms of Jeremy. Her dad turns out to be the most hypocritical character of all. He claims to provide his daughters with every opportunity, yet he criticizes their every move. When Paige is reminded of the startling truth of why she distanced herself from her family, she is heartbroken. We discover a whole new layer to her family’s past. This turn of events begins the resolution to the film, though I won’t spoil it for you.

This movie doesn’t share the ranks of “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” or “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” but I predict it will be a rom-com favorite for years. With an awesome soundtrack and eye candy for both guys and girls, I’ll definitely watch it again. 

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