Just like The Notebook and Dear John, both adapted from Nicholas Sparks classics, this weekend's "sappy" new drama The Vow boasts an almost oppressively romantic plot. When Paige, played by The Notebook's Rachel McAdams, and husband Leo (Channing Tatum) get into a brutal car accident, she suffers amnesia and can't remember the last five years — including minor details like her marriage. Her heartbroken beefcake spouse must make Paige fall in love with him all over again. Early tracking indicates that women (and their begrudging dates) will flock to the film in droves, just as they did for The Notebook eight years ago. Will they be disappointed?
Certain susceptible women will love it. Their dates, not so much: The Vow is marginally better than it looks, says Kimber Myers at Indie Wire. Still, anyone outside of its target demographic will "find it a painful experience." Tatum's swoonworthy Leo is the personification of "everything that women are told they want in Cosmopolitan": He strums the guitar, proffers flowers, and finds time to maintain washboard abs. Too bad he's saddled with dialogue "straight out of a Sweet Valley High novel." Women who love these types of movies will gobble up The Vow like a Whitman's Sampler. Everyone else: Run.
"Review: The Vow is for people who like to get Teddy Bears on Valentine's Day"
Everyone will hate this film: Suggesting that The Vow will appeal to fans of The Notebook is a grave insult to the The Notebook, says Leah Rozen at The Wrap. The Notebook was "high-class romantic mush." Here, McAdams is "stuck in far deeper, dopier muck." The impossibly wooden dialogue "practically clunks like blocks thudding against each other." Tatum lumbers through it all like an awkward galoot — the "polar opposite" of Ryan Gosling's endearing Notebook character — while McAdams is typically radiant, but "irritatingly false."
"The Vow will stink up theaters even worse than a tub of buttered popcorn"
It's at least on par with The Notebook: Based on a true story and directed by Emmy-winning Michael Sucsy (HBO's Grey Gardens), The Vow is a fine addition to the romantic drama canon, says Peter Debruge at Variety. Had these events "not happened to a real couple, audiences might chalk it up to the worst possible abuses of Hollywood's favorite lazy-screenwriting tool: dramatically expedient amnesia." But this "unabashedly sentimental" film isn't expedient. It refuses to exploit Paige's tragedy for easy-to-get tears. It's "the most welcome kind of Valentine's Day offering, focusing on feelings that bring couples closer."