28 02 2012

If you don’t read the fine print, you could easily be duped into thinking “The Vow” is the latest film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks beach read – I mean, novel.  The marketers were certainly happy to sell it as such, reminding us that the movie doesn’t just star Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum but rather the leads of “The Notebook” and “Dear John.”  Little did I, or many others, realize that their obsession with framing it in terms of Sparks’ work was just a big cover.  The movie is actually merely “inspired by true events,” Hollywood’s catch-all phrase that reminds us that something similar happened in real life and that they intend to take massive artistic liberties.

After seeing the movie, I can tell why they had to bombard people with the idea that they had to judge it on the “standards” of Nicholas Sparks (if you can even call them standards).  While it may be inspired by reality, it is based on his formula for tears and gushy displays of shameless romanticism.  Hollywood never seems to take the right lessons away from their smashing successes, and “The Vow” is just a further reminder of how skewed their logic has become.  Some things only work once, and to hammer them away into hackneyed oblivion.

There comes a point when these calculations eventually stop yielding success and the total becomes less than the sum of its parts.  “The Vow” represents that for the Sparks weepies, although it may have come earlier since I don’t make it a point to see movies like this.  A big group of friends insisted on seeing this movie (although I did remind them that there was a great movie called “The Artist” showing a couple of screens down), so I decided I might as well see what the fuss was about these movies.

As I had surmised, I wasn’t missing much.  Is it really necessary to show gratuitous shirtless or naked shots of Channing Tatum (while providing a frumpy, uptight looking Rachel McAdams for the men in the audience)?  Isn’t that what a Google Images search is for?  Is it really necessary to give us yet another amnesia love story?  As if “50 First Dates” and “Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind” don’t exist and the audience hasn’t seen one of the two…

These movies are all about the romance, and it fizzles in “The Vow” between the two leads.  They have absolutely no chemistry, and I don’t want to pin the blame on one actor – but let’s look at which one actually can’t act.  That would be Tatum, who actually is just a pretty face, inserted into movies to reel in girls who just want to marvel at their Adonis.  He’s flat as ever here; honestly, more sparks would have flown if Rachel McAdams was dating a trash can.  It’s a shame that she has pigeon-holed herself into roles like these as I actually think she’s a phenomenal actress.  But between this and “Morning Glory,” I wouldn’t be expecting her to get another “The Family Stone” any time soon.

If you don’t trust me, the male, on this movie, just take it from the girls who I accompanied.  Most of them described it as dull and boring, a movie void of heat or urgency.  One of them even fell asleep.  Looks like most people want to disavow “The Vow.”  D+



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