Don Bauder 5:40 p.m., Sept. 15
Review: The Vow
Channing Tatum has a nice butt. Don't believe me? Check out The Vow and see for yourself.
"I am still trying to figure out why he was cast in that role," said my friend as we left the theater. On the one hand, I saw his point. Tatum's gym-sculpted, razor-smoothed, stony-faced self is entirely wrong for a Chicago hipster who praises the virtues of live recording studios vs. feeding tracks into your laptop. And his narrow, steely eyes are ill-suited for expressing the near-constant hurt and frustration involved in having your wife wake up from a coma with no memory of you and no real interest in the life you once shared. Tatum can register pain, but when he does, it looks less like a wounded puppy in need of love and more like a dog who's been smacked on the nose for jumping on the couch. And while he works hard at the vocal cadences of his character's nice-guy humor and empathy, he mostly just winds up sounding like John Krasinski from The Office.
In fact, Krasinski would have been a much better choice for the lead opposite the impossibly cute Rachel McAdams, except...well, see above. In the end (ha ha!), Tatum's backside was a more important marketing tool than Krasinski's charm. And this movie is a fine piece of marketing. What wife wouldn't love the idea of being courted all over again, of a husband who was once more thrilled just to get to first base? To borrow from the film, who wouldn't want the re-live experience of reading their favorite book for the first time? How sweet!
Unfortunately, all that sweetness comes at the expense of something vital. Is it crude to say that I would have found it hilarious (and icky) if the newly chilly McAdams had caught her husband watching an old sex tape of the two of them? Yes it is. But it's the sort of thing that would have helped to make things pop. As would a treatment of the Vow in question as a promise made to love and endure no matter what, instead of an incantation that may work to warm the sentimental heart. By the end, I found myself moved more by Jessica Lange (as McAdams' long-suffering mother) than by anyone else. I'm not sure that was the film's intention.