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Movie Review: Tear-jerker, but not quite ‘The Notebook’

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I really don’t have a problem admitting it: I spent my Friday night watching “The Vow,” starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum. There were six of us that went (the gender breakdown was an even three and three), and each came out with a different opinion on the movie. The girls tended to like it more than the guys, but still the overall sentiment was that it was a pretty good movie. I figure the easiest way to critique it is in comparison to other Nicholas Sparks movies, and yes, I have seen some. Relative to the other movies that have been based on his books, it was a really good movie.

As far as the plot is concerned, “The Vow” wasn’t overly impressive. I won’t include any spoilers in this review, so don’t worry, but think about the generalities of the plot: A wife (McAdams) has a memory issue, and the husband (Tatum) fights to keep her in love with him.  Although it has its nuances, it is pretty similar to “The Notebook,” even setting aside the fact that McAdams stars in both. The jury is also still out on the ending of the movie, at least with the group I went with. Once again, I won’t ruin it for you readers that haven’t seen the movie yet but I’ll give the ending a generally “average” grade.

However, I don’t know how critical I should be of the plot because these types of movies aren’t necessarily meant to be great films with unbelievable character development and philosophical thematic overtones. They’re meant to tear the ladies’ hearts open, make them cry, provide an emotional upswing that mends those broken hearts, make them cry again at the ending and earn a whole lot of money in the process. Not necessarily an Oscar-worthy type of movie, but that description pretty much sums up “The Vow.”

Still, as I mentioned, it wasn’t horrible, and I actually enjoyed it. My biggest issue with the movie is simple: Tatum’s acting. I know the cliché will be that I just don’t like the super attractive model guy who stars in the movie and all the ladies in the audience loved. But that’s not the case. Rather, I saw “Dear John” (also a Sparks movie) — which he played a leading role opposite of Amanda Seyfried — and to be honest I don’t remember a thing from it except for how atrocious of an actor he was. He completely distracted me from the entire rest of the movie, although I doubt anything impressive was happening. Due to that experience, I went into the movie with a lot of apprehension about him. Though, in “The Vow,” he wasn’t “Dear John” bad. I certainly wasn’t annoyed throughout the movie by him by any means, which is good.

Elissa Rabin, a sophomore from Drake who attended the movie on Friday, didn’t share the same opinion of Tatum that I did.

“I thought he did a decent job,” she said.

Rabin did admit that she hadn’t gone into the movie “with a problem with him” as I did.  His acting, alongside McAdams’ solid performance, caused some tears in the group.

“I wasn’t just tearing up,” Rabin said. “I was totally crying.”

Sophomore Bianca D’Amico struggled to hold back tears.

“I wasn’t crying,” D’Amico said before confessing the obvious — she bawled throughout the entire movie.

Even though it was sad enough to cause both of these Drake girls to cry (along with about the entire rest of the audience), they both agreed: “The Vow” is not as good as “The Notebook,” but it is definitely better than “Dear John.”  So, if you’re looking for a quality crying session in a socially acceptable setting, this movie is just what you need. However, “The Notebook” still reigns supreme as the ultimate Nicholas Sparks film.

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