Susan Granger’s review of “The Vow” (Sony/Screen Gems)
This romantic melodrama is a female wish-fulfillment fantasy, even though it’s loosely based on an incident in which a woman lost her short-term memory as the result of a brain trauma.
As the story begins, Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are a young married couple enjoying an evening out in Chicago. It’s snowing and the roads are slippery when a dump truck plows into their car, sending Paige through the windshield and into the Emergency Room, where she’s placed in an induced coma. When she awakens in the hospital, Paige doesn’t recognize Leo and has no memory of their four years together, including her studies at the Art Institute. Their North Side loft is unfamiliar, her sculpture studio is bewildering and their bohemian friends seem like strangers.
Curiously, Paige is able to relate more to her uptight, controlling parents (Jessica Lange, Sam Neill) from whom she was previously estranged, so she decides to move back into their posh suburban home. She’s more comfortable drinking blueberry mojitos with her old, high-school classmates, even flirting with her torch-carrying ex-fiancé, Jeremy (Scott Speedman), whom she’d dumped five years ago when she dropped out of law school.
Determined to woo and win her all over again, devoted Leo goes into courtship mode, neglecting the rock ‘n’ roll music recording business he once launched with Paige’s encouragement. In doing so, he recreates their “moments of impact,” reminding her how they’d met at the DMV, scribbled wedding vows on the back of a restaurant menu, etc.
The predictably contrived, formulaic screenplay by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein and Jason Katims is based on a story by Stuart Sender and directed at a slogging pace by Michael Sucsy, best known for helming HBO’s “Grey Gardens” (2009). Always endearing, Rachel McAdams (“The Notebook”) dimples delightfully and chiseled Channing Tatum (“Haywire”) oozes earnestness but, regretfully, sparks never ignite.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Vow” is a sweet, syrupy 4, filled with slick, heart-tugging, tear-jerking sentiment…and a glimpse of the real-life couple, Kim and Krickett Carpenter.