A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this true story-inspired emotional drama, which is cut from the same cloth as the very romantic The Notebook, also stars Rachel McAdams (here she plays a young artist who wakes up from a coma with absolutely no idea that she's happily married to Channing Tatum). It's a tearjerker that deals with some heavy material, including family estrangement, infidelity, divorce, loss, and identity. Expect sexual innuendo, kissing and making out, and partial nudity (a man's backside), as well as some swearing ("s--t," etc.) and social drinking. The sexual content is presented within the context of a couple's deep love for each other.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) lead an enchanted life, falling in love beautifully and quickly. But in a literal and figurative "moment of impact," as Leo describes it, their world shifts. A truck rear-ends them, sending Paige through the front window, the glass breaking into bits, taking her memories of Leo with them. When she awakes from a coma, Paige no longer can remember being married. In fact, she has forgotten years before they even met, he's a total stranger to her, and she's not sure she can fall in love with him again. What happens to them now?
Is it any good?
THE VOW wants so badly for audiences to care, and that's one of its biggest flaws: It tries too hard. From the drama-heavy set-up to the ponderous dialogue -- which repeatedly reminds viewers that a) Tatum's character is such a good guy and b) Paige can't remember him, and how deeply tragic is that? -- it just won't quit. And you want to care -- how could you not? McAdams, just like her former beau/Notebook co-star, Ryan Gosling, is effortless at being authentic. When she cries, they seem like real tears. She's the best part of the movie.
But Channing Tatum is no Ryan Gosling. He's likable enough -- and clearly gifted with a handsome physique (which is displayed quite frequently). But there's no there. His acting doesn't have the depth that McAdams deserves. The plot feels like it could have been written decades ago (save for the obvious hipster references); it's anachronistic and dated. Would an adult like Paige really let her parents speak for her and make decisions for her? To, frankly, infantilize her? She's suffering from amnesia, not complete incapacitation. The Vow is a paint-by-numbers tearjerker, and that's as frustrating as a broken promise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Vow's messages about relationships. What is it saying about marriage? The nature of love? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding relationships.
Do you consider Paige a role model? Why does she let others make decisions for her? How does she break out of this rut?
The movie was inspired by true events. How accurate do you think it is? Why might filmmakers change the details of a true story when making a movie?
- In theaters: February 10, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: May 7, 2012
- Cast: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Sam Neill
- Director: Michael Sucsy
- Studio: Screen Gems
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity, and some language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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