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The Vow: movie review (+trailer)

With its long climb out of amnesia, 'The Vow' plays with viewers' patience.

By Andy Klein / February 10, 2012

Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams star in ‘The Vow,’ directed and co-written by Michael Sucsy (who also directed the TV movie ‘Grey Gardens’). Amnesia has been at the center of scores of films, serving melodrama, farce, thriller, and – as here – romance.

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"The Vow" may be a by-the-numbers Hollywood romance, but the filmmakers aren't afraid to take chances. In the very first shot, two deliriously happy young lovebirds – Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) – exit a movie theater. Don't give us any ideas.

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Director Michael Sucsy and his four credited writers waste no time getting to the punch: As Leo and Paige drive home, they tease, they laugh, they pull over for a little fooling around ... they get rear-ended by a large truck – all in under three minutes (and much of that in ultra-slow motion). In the moments before Paige goes flying through the windshield, Leo starts philosophizing in voice-over about life's "moments of impact." It's your call whether this little attempt at cleverness is remarkably tasteless or simply nauseatingly coy.

Even after four years of teasing, laughing, and fooling around, this should stand out as a night to remember. Unfortunately, Paige doesn't remember it, or anything else from those four years. As far as she knows, she's studying law, she's engaged to a vaguely slimy attorney (Scott Speedman), and George W. Bush is still in the White House. She has no clue who Leo is – tragic to be sure, until you realize that she has been retroactively spared the financial collapse, the debt ceiling negotiations, and Rebecca Black's "Friday."

She's so uncomfortable with this hunky stranger and his claims about their marital bliss that she abandons their Chicago apartment for the Lake Forest mansion she grew up in, where Mater (Jessica Lange) and Pater (Sam Neill) while away the hours being even more unpleasant and snobbish than McAdams's parents in "Midnight in Paris."

Leo, meanwhile, hopes that flashbacks and slo-mo, ballad-backed montages will bring back the Paige who severed contact with her family, dropped law school for art school, and fell in love with him.

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