REVIEW (Grade: A-)
By Jonathan Decker
Your enjoyment of The Vow will depend entirely upon your taste when it comes to bittersweet, tear-jerking love stories. If you don't like them, nothing here will convert you. Being something of a romantic myself, I must concede that this film does very well what it sets out to do. Rachel McAdams, who is becoming the modern queen of this genre, brings a fine balance of charm, confusion, and heartache to her portrayal of a wife who loses several years of memory in a car accident, forgetting her entire courtship and married life. As her husband, Channing Tatum (who I'd previously written off as talentless eye-candy) has apparently been taking acting lessons and/or learning from his costars on previous films, because he gives a nice performance here. He's actually quite good, conveying both the fear of losing his wife if he can't win her heart again and the good humor necessary to endure such a trial.
The fascinating premise is taken from a true story, though the specific details and characters here are purely romantic fiction. Supporting characters (her family, her ex-fiance) and relationships are surprisingly well-rounded and complex for this type of film. The Vow is pleasantly thorough in portraying the emotional journeys of its characters, wisely opting for the less-is-more approach in its inevitable happy ending. This gives the film a satisfying realism instead of overwrought Hollywood-style melodrama. There is plenty of sorrow here, just like in real life, but there's also hope and happiness. As someone who enjoys romantic films but thinks most modern ones ring too hollow or crass, I found The Vow to be a nice surprise.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: The Vow is rated PG-13. It has some moderate profanity and a few vulgar expressions. A married couple kisses passionately on the floor and wake up cuddling naked in bed (we see her bare back and his bare leg/chest, but a blanket covers the rest). We see a man's rear for a few seconds in a humorous scene. A married couple goes swimming in their underwear (seen from a medium distance) and kiss wearing the same. A man gets punched. Two men share a drink. A car accident sends a woman through the windshield. While dating a man buys a woman lingerie and asks her to move in with him, though the very next scene is of them getting married.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Sometimes our tragedies and trials are blessings in disguise. Forgiveness brings healing. A husband and wife are to leave their former lives with their parents and make a life for one another together.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.