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The Vow (review)

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The Vow Channing Tatum Rachel McAdams

Bitches Be Brain Damaged

So it turns out that perhaps the most awesome thing ever to happen to sappy shitty romantic flicks is brain damage. It makes sense! These movies are already brain-dead 95 percent of time anyway, as if it’s simply not possible, in the heads of the people who perpetrate this junk, for a story to be both not entirely idiotic as well as not entirely absurd and yet also genuinely swoon inducing. I mean, these movies are ”for women” and Hollywood already thinks women are morons who will be taken in by the stupidest sappiest shit it can come up with as long as it features a cute sensitive guy who likes to cuddle and go to film festivals and wear a goofy hat…
(Please don’t write in to complain: Of course I’m not suggesting that there aren’t perfectly amazing real-life guys who like to cuddle and go to film festivals and wear goofy hats. Why, some of my best friends are guys who like to cuddle and go to film festivals and wear goofy hats. I’m suggesting that this is Hollywood cartoon shorthand for “amazing guy just like teh womenz lurve even though he doesn’t exist in nature — amirite guys? — but we gotta pander to the bitches once in a while” and so there’s no need to make this character a real man, he can be merely a fake phony totally bullshit “dreamboat” as if that is in the least bit interesting. Though I frankly don’t understand how Channing Tatum comes into this, because he always seems slightly mentally retarded to me, and I don’t even mean that in a bad way except he doesn’t even have that effortless sweetness that some mentally retarded people can have. He just seems dim and never quite fully present and lacking an inner life, and what’s romantic about that? And yes, sometimes smart women do bother to see these sorts of movies and end up enjoying them because what else are you gonna do if you want a little bit of romance at the movies? Nothing. I am merely their muted voices crying out at the injustice to women and men alike.)

…And so here we have every idiotic romantic-movie cliché sexed up with brain damage. Manic pixie dream girl? Oh, she’s so much more manic, so much more “trouble” if she’s had an accident and then was in a coma and now has amnesia and can’t even remember your wacky fun-filled totally unconventional romantic adventures! Meet cute? Wait till you see The Vow’s meet cute in reruns, as Channing Tatum (Haywire, The Eagle) attempts to make his manic pixie dream dain-bramaged wife, Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Time Traveler’s Wife), remember how totally awesome they were together by running her through the things they did before. It’s like that bit in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray tries to recapture the spontaneous wonder of one glorious day with Andie MacDowell, but she doesn’t realize they’re doing reruns and is completely creeped out. Except here, it works! Romance! McAdams’ Paige, who has lost all memory of her life with Tatum’s Leo, might totally go to second base with this “mysterious” stranger.

Please kill me now.

If it makes you wanna throw up a little to hear Tatum’s Leo romantically voiceover-philosophizing about “moments of impact” that change our lives and see that conflated with his wife going slo-mo through an automobile windshield, it’s okay: you’re normal.

But ladies, hey, are you feeling like your husband isn’t paying attention to you like he once did? Need to rekindle that romance? Why not try coma-induced brain-damage amnesia? Because then your dreamboat will go all Channing Tatum on you and be all “gotta make my wife fall in love with me again.” *sigh* It’s like so totally dreamy…

Nicholas Sparks is currently reworking the eight shitty novels he has in progress to give the heroine some sort of diminished mental capacity. And then he will sell the movie rights to Hollywood for ten times what he would have gotten before.

Forget that both of these people inspire one to scream “What the hell do I care if his wife loves him or not? Christ, talk to your therapist! Don’t bore me with this — I’m not your best friend!” (This is despite the best efforts of McAdams, who is clearly trying to make the best of it with her winning smile and lush screen presence; Tatum is all like, Hey, whatev, dude.) The Vow plays like it was written by a dreamy 12-year-old — instead of the team of five presumably adult screenwriters — who is utterly naive about life. Sure, a person’s personality can change dramatically after a brain injury, but Paige’s personality shift on that level happened before she even met Leo, when she abandoned sweater sets and law school and snooty country-club life for a boho existence of an apartment in “the city” and art school and funky vintage castoffs and manic-pixie-dream-girling for Leo’s recording-studio dude. Her accident erases five years of memories, and so she forgets that abandonment and rewinds to her previous life. Which suggests that she was either a phony, pretending in every aspect of her life, during the country-club phase or later, during the art-school phase. People don’t change that much.

Unless… why, of course, women do change that much! It’s adorbs, isn’t it, how women are just like that, changing their styles and their wardrobes and their politics and their morality like they change their shoes. Don’t even get me started!

Throwing up again a little bit…

US/Canada release date: Feb 10 2012 | UK release date: Feb 10 2012

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated MPDGbd (contains a manic pixie dream girl with brain damage)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language
BBFC: rated 12A (contains an accident scene and moderate injury detail)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes
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