Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Vow

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Title: The Vow

How Many Ass Shots Can We Look Forward To? One from Channing Tatum, but it's fairly extended. None from Rachel McAdams.

None?! Nope. Frankly, it's a national outrage.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two strips of bacon out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: After a serious car accident, a young woman wakes to discover she has no recollection of her husband or their five-year marriage.

Tagline: "Inspired by true events."

Better Tagline: "Channing Tatum wears a hat!"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: After emerging from her coma, Paige (McAdams) has no recollection of the last several years of her life, and devoted husband Leo (Tatum) is a stranger to her. She soon finds herself torn between trying to reconnect with Leo and returning to the only life she remembers, living with her rich parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange). Of course, her past life also comes with a former suitor, and a long-dormant secret.

"Critical" Analysis: I'm tempted just to say, "I didn't hate The Vow" and leave it at that. In and of itself, it's not much of a bold statement. That is, unless you've seen the previews.

But it was a near thing. The movie had barely started (the movie opens with their car wreck, than flashes back four years to their meeting) and I could feel the beginnings of a sugar-induced migraine, as they lay the schmaltz on pretty thick. In short, artist Paige and musician Leo have a Love For The Ages in which the man stands in the pouring rain to signify...he's willing to stand in the pouring rain for her. And they spend every other waking moment breathing in each other's essence and never ever argung about who used the last of the toilet paper without replacing the roll and if they knew we were out why didn't they go to the goddamned store and buy more?

Sorry. The point is, at only ten minutes this is already starting to feel like a hipster The Notebook. This led a fellow critic to ask why they didn't just cast Ryan Gosling in this one as well. More on that later.

But once Paige wakes from her coma, things get slightly more interesting. Her memories stop shortly before the point where she met Leo, and she's surprised to discover she hasn't spoken with her parents in years. They'd apparently welcome her back with open arms, even as she tries to make a go of reacquiring her memories of Leo. Funny thing is, amnesiac Paige is kind of unlikeable. Not only did the accident erase her memories, it also caused her to revert to her pre-Bohemian rich girl mind-set. She and Leo argue, and she starts showing signs of wanting to return to her parents. This has the side benefit of sparing us extended scenes with the couple's ironic fedora-sporting friends.

Paige has two things going for her. First, this really is the opposite of "damned if you do, damned if you don't." On one hand, she has the hunky Leo, who is obviously smitten and willing to move heaven and earth to win her back. On the other, there's her old fiancé Jeremy (Scott Speedman), the handsome and successful businessdude she dumped when she hauled stakes for the city. Come on, guys; at least cast Clint Howard or someone equally repellent as Leo. Make her work for it a little.

And second, she's young. Can you imagine trying to reconnect with your husband or wife after losing memories of 20 or 30 years of marriage? If I were Leo, I think I'd just cut her a check for half our assets and call it a day.

Aside from the strangely conflict-absent plot, the sore thumb here is Channing Tatum. Whether standing in line with a ridiculous hat perched on his dome or sporting a series of the worst sweaters in movie history, I can't buy this lummox as a sensitive artist type. Maybe a better actor (he still hasn't evolved much past clenching his jaw to express, well, any emotion) would be able to combine soulfulness with rock-hard abs. Hence, the earlier Gosling comment.

Hell, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan made, what, three romantic movies together? C'mon, Ryan, Rachel could use the work.

If this doesn't come across as a ringing endorsement, that's because it isn't. Still, The Vow succeeds as much as it does because it (mostly) avoids the pat ending so identifiable with the genre, and McAdams is pleasant enough to make up for its earlier sappiness.

The Vow is in theaters today. Drive safely on your way to your local cineplex.

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