The other day, my friends and I went to go see The Vow starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum (cue girls dramatically sighing and violently fanning themselves). It was fine, and for a Romantic Comedy/Drama, it was definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen lately.
I kind of hate Jane Austen though. It’s just that, she kind of ruined all such movies for me. I mean, Jane started the romantic comedy (well, okay, that may actually have been Shakespeare… Much Ado About Nothing anyone?). Jane (and yes, we are on a first name basis) and Shakespeare knew how to write romantic comedies. And they did it well. They used rom-coms as a vehicle for their brilliance. Their humour is funny on many levels and provides meaningful social commentary about so many things. They’re about so much more than the boy getting the girl (or the girl getting the boy) in the end.
We all (presumably) know how Jane’s novels end (and if you don’t, you should really find a different, less awesome blog to read, or maybe go read all of Jane’s novels, like, this second — spoiler alert, the girls all end up with the right guys in the end, oops, sorry to ruin it for you). We know that if we’re reading/watching a Shakespearean Comedy, they’re likely going to end up married and no one’s going to die (or be brutally murdered); if it’s a Shakespearean Tragedy, the opposite will probably hold true. But that doesn’t matter, what matters is how they get to the end, not what the end is. It’s literature, plot is irrelevant. (Well, I don’t know if that’s quite true, but that’s an entirely different discussion…) The point is, in real rom-coms (and by that I mean the stuff of Shakespeare and Jane) the happy ending is just a bonus.
Whereas in movies like The Vow, plot tends to count… a lot. And the thing is, they really lead you on, and they want you to fall for the fact that the male and female leads may not get back together. The problem is, either you don’t fall for it at all, or you’re me and you fall for it too much. During the movie, I nearly squeezed my friend’s arm off and she had to promise me that they’d get together in the end. So you have all these high emotional stakes and you’re thoroughly invested, but then when they do end up together? You want to be happy, but, please, you saw that coming. It just isn’t good enough. It isn’t worth the emotion strain they just put you through. Suspending your disbelief just wasn’t worth it.
Now, I don’t know how Jane and Will(iam Shakespeare) do it, but they get away with using the same formula (nay, they invented the formula) and somehow, I’m rarely disappointed. (Except for Mansfield Park… that book just pisses me off.) Perhaps it’s because Jane and Will were geniuses and the lame-o screenwriters writing this nonsense are not. (That’s not to say I don’t adore some of this nonsense, Mean Girls is completely one of the greatest movies of all time, right up there with P&P ’95, but even so, it’s a little um, romanticized… to say the least. It all works out in the end and everyone gets to be friends? Have these people been to high school? The school I go to is not clique-y, at all, and even still, I assure you we’re not all best friends.)
One rant I’d like to go on about this movie is with regards to Channing Tatum. It seemed to me as though every three minutes Channing Tatum was either shirtless or quasi-naked. My friends were all but drooling and while I can definitely empathize, it really added little to nothing to the movie. And yes, I know, we all love the pond scene (in P&P ’95), oooh, and this one, but that’s different! Yes, it is! Those scenes were “perks” added by Andrew Davies, they were absolutely NOT written by Jane. While they did add something to the movie, they aren’t why we watch that movie, right? Right? Someone back me up here! That movie would have been just as good without those scenes (probably) and I, at least, would have still watched it a million-and-a-half times without them (again, probably). The Vow on the other hand? Where would it be without Channing Tatum prancing around shirtless? Nowhere, that’s were it would be. On the cutting room floor. My friends and I went to see it almost solely for the shirtlessness (at least that was one friend’s motivation). While that may have added a certain dimension to the film, it certainly shouldn’t have been the best part.
I think it’s silly to make a movie like that which will make big money at the box office due to the actors’ level of attractiveness but has little greater significance. Besides, I really don’t see what the big deal with Channing is, he has nothing on Darcy, Knightley or Tilney, I mean, he doesn’t even have an accent!! (Shh, don’t tell my friends I said that, they may disown me.) But, I guess that’s Hollywood — perhaps The Artist is a little more my speed. That was a good movie, I love the interesting way it explored film as an art form versus a business venture.
That being said, there were a lot of parts I did like. Namely the super adorable wedding (that kiss afterwards was really cute and I thought Rachel McAdam’s dress and veil were awesome) and Rachel’s hair when it was short and dark (especially in the wedding scene). All the flash-backs to the way they were before were also pretty sweet. They certainly made an attractive couple.
So, I quite subjectively and perhaps arbitrarily give it 3/5 stars. However, I’m not really sure how the whole stars rating thing works and if I were to rate a whole bunch of movies my rating system would not be consistent.
So, have you seen The Vow? What did you think?