I vowed to hate the second half of my Valentine’s date last night. Hell, I even skipped dessert, fearing I’d go into diabetic shock from all the sugary sweet confections on the big screen. Worse than dismissing the film on premise alone, I nearly spoiled dinner for my wife. I started brainstorming these opening insults for a review of a movie I hadn’t seen yet. For example,
I liked The Vow better the first time…when it was called Regarding Henry.
For the love of God, just curl up in bed with James Garner and Gena Rowlands already!
SPOILER ALERT: Rachel McAdams finally remembers…it’s P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.
Did I really loathe the idea of spending a romantic Valentine’s evening watching a romantic movie with my wife? No. Truth is, it’s no secret that I’ve got a soft spot for rom-coms. But after falling so Crazy, Stupid, [in] Love with the Ryan Gosling ab movie last summer, I really needed to disavow the genre altogether. To put it mildly, I needed to smoke an unfiltered cigarette, slug a pint of Guinness, shit all over The Vow, and watch me some Spaghetti Westerns when I got home.
Instead, I Googled the real-life couple* who inspired the film that I enjoyed way too much. Turns out I liked the cheesy amnesia premise. Enjoyed watching two genetically blessed actors fall in love for the first time…and hopefully for a second time. I especially liked how the producers raided Cousin Eddie’s wardrobe just to make it seem harder to fall in love with Tatum a second time. No joke, at one point he appears to be wearing a denim leisure suit that wouldn’t fit a Build-A-Bear.
Yes, the movie should come with a warning for diabetics. It’s that light and sweet, romantic and contrived. But it’s also just original enough and funny enough to rise above a predictable genre that banks on amnesia from its audience. Rachel McAdams is at her Notebook best as Paige. Channing Tatum summons his inner Christopher “cowbell” Walken as Leo. Like Walken, Tatum’s quirky delivery works to great dramatic and sometimes comedic effect. Just funny enough, in fact, that I’ve lifted my personal boycott on the 21 Jump Street trailer.
The supporting cast is lead by Sam Neill, who basically plays the “not with my daughter” role from Cocktail. Scott “Felicity” Speedman plays the “other guy” who douche-bags his way back into Paige’s life. And as Paige’s mother, poor Jessica Lange looks so old and wrinkly that Sam Neil offers her the occasional Jurassic Park double take.
So does Paige finally remember Leo? Does Leo make her fall back in love with him all over again? Do they steal a page from The Notebook and die happily ever after? Sorry, no spoilers here. I’ll only offer three tips: 1) Skip dessert; 2) See The Vow; 3) Don’t tell anyone I told you so.
*Google note: as for the real-life couple who inspired the film….they look less like Tatum and McAdams…more like Turner and Hooch.