Directed by Michael Sucsy
Written by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein & Michael Sucsy
As we find ourselves nearing the end of awards season with the Oscars on tap for later this month, a whole slew of mediocre films seem to be released every January and February, but every now and then there is a gem out there, though not very often. For the most part it is just a dumping ground for studios to release their leftovers which still have a faithful audience who will make it out to the theater to see them. I made a new year’s resolution to go to fewer films this year, to be more selective with my choices, so I would not have normally gone to see this film if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a free advanced screening pass. But this viewing also proves that nothing compares to the theater experience and how films can be just about anything.
Too often, and especially so during awards season, I can take movies way too seriously, criticizing the Academy for omitting the great arthouse films in favor of more mainstream and lighter fare, but this lighter fare has its place just like any other. Sometimes it works just to go to a film and see a favorite actor or a cheesy romance and have a nice 2 hours where we can just take it in instead of having to reach any deeper than our eye sockets. This is one such straight forward film, featuring the tale of a husband (Channing Tatum) and a wife (Rachel McAdams) and the remarkable struggle they had in reconnecting after the wife lost her memory in an auto accident, leaving her husband as a mere stranger who needs to woo her once more to find the love they shared before.
Before I start to sound too positive, let me dish out the negative because I do not want to give the impression that this was an inherently good film, but rather just passable entertainment that would please most date nights. The problem with the film is that it is far too general in its display of the love of the couple. It opens with a quick recap of their romance, highlighting the more specific cute moments that they shared together, but without any convincing display of affection between the two. The cute parts are just that, cute, and it is one of the better parts of the film, but it becomes almost a burden upon the film to be filled with these ideas by the screenwriters, or moments between the actors which feign a convincing reality.
One of the bigger problems with the film is probably Channing Tatum, which is a statement that many women would disagree with me about due to his great looks, but the fact of the matter is that he is a terrible actor. I don’t hate the guy, I am sure he is a nice guy off screen, but he is the least emotional actor working today it seems. His face is as expressionless as the old couch in my basement, maybe less. Some people are just not that full of expression, it’s fine, but those people should also stay out of acting. Heck, I just saw him on Ellen and he seemed to display more excitement and emotion there, in real life, than he did in the film. The other actors here are perfectly adequate, though there is one scene by 2-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange which left me cringing.
Perfectly adequate seems to be the perfect way to describe the film really. It doesn’t do anything really all that well, but it stays within the romance genre and stays formulaic, but does not really do any thing all that bad. I guess my biggest qualm, or the biggest blocker I had was the fact that none of the characters are all that likable in my opinion. Tatum’s character does some stupid things and the conflict she has with her family is constructed so that no one is a winner. Though I guess the real winner here is Rachel McAdams, whose smile and radiance is so infectious that she is probably the best part of the film. She is not the best actress out there, but she knows what she is good at and sticks to it, and she is great in these romance films. In many ways it was worth it just to see her in the film. Other than that I would probably give the film more of a failing grade, but there is a certain amount of charm and a certain amount of escape and simplicity that the film provides which makes it watchable.