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Movie Review

The Vow

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Romance Drama
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 10, 2012 (wide—2,800+ theaters)
DVD: May 8, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures

husband winning heart of his wife again and rebuilding their marriage

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

newlywed couple

lives changed by a car accident

wife in a coma

severe memory loss


mother daughter relationship

father daughter relationship

Featuring: Rachel McAdamsPaige
Channing TatumLeo
Jessica LangeRita Thornton
Sam NeillBill Thornton
more »
Director: Michael Sucsy
Producer: Screen Gems
Spyglass Entertainment
more »
Distributor: Screen Gems, Sony Pictures

Memories define us. Our entire personality and lives are stored within our minds. Every moment, every encounter has helped either build up or tear down relationships. And, after marriage, spouses are required to keep and honor their vows. What if a brain injury left your loved one with no memory of you? It’s a difficult question, and an impossible one to ponder.

Paige (Rachel McAdams) and her husband (Channing Tatum) are happily married. While at a stop sign, Paige unbuckles her seatbelt and flirts with her husband. Within moments, a truck rear ends their small car, causing Paige to smash through the windshield. Suffering a traumatic brain injury, Paige is placed in an induced coma.

Leo escapes with minor injury and waits for his wife to wake up. Upon waking, however, Paige has no recollection of him or their marriage. She isn’t even the same person. She still believes she’s in law school and on good terms with her parents. Still deeply in love with his wife, Leo is determined to make Paige fall back in love with him, even though his wife is a former version of herself.

Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum are sweet together. Upon first hearing the casting of the film, I hadn’t been too sure of the pairing, but they have believable chemistry. The film does have its charm and laughs. However, I do feel it could have been so much more. Some inconvenient characters are thrown in the mix, distracting from the main story of Paige and Leo. It felt as if not enough time was spent on Paige and Leo rebuilding their relationship.

***SPOILER*** The movie doesn’t live up to its name. Potential viewers might be led to believe that Leo and Paige, while still married, reconnect and fall in love all over again. They only go on one date and eventually get divorced. Paige finds herself by gaining her independence and by going back to school and living on her own. Once she’s built a new life for herself, she then seeks out Leo six months later. Though the film was only inspired by the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, the writers should have stuck more closely to their true account. They never divorced, and while steadfastly enduring the aftereffects of the brain injury, they fall back in love.

In all, there are at least 12 uses of foul language: 7 sh_t, 3 hells, 1 GD, 1 d_mnit. There is also some mild vulgarity with at least one use of d_ck and c_ckblock. During a car ride, Paige flirts with Leo and says that she heard one could get “preggers” if one does it in a car. When first meeting, Leo tells Paige that they have the same parking zone in college, she responds that it sounds intimate. Before they’re married, he gives her a negligee with a note that states “For Later”. She smiles at him, takes it out of the box, and puts it against herself. Though Leo does ask Paige to move in, they’re quickly married in subsequent scenes.

There are no sex scenes in the movie. In one flashback scene, the married couple are on the floor, kissing. Paige is then shown pulling up Leo’s shirt. Afterwards, they lie in bed, Paige’s entire bare back is shown and the sheets are pulled up, showing a lot of their legs. In two scenes, Paige is in her bra and panties. From habit, her husband walks around nude, his derriere is briefly shown. After they walk in on each other, he smiles and says that it’s not as if she hasn’t seen it before. Leo and Paige’s former fiancée exchange a bitter exchange about winning over Paige; she does briefly kiss her former flame.

I cautiously recommend this movie only for adults. I took the hubby with me to see it, and we had an intriguing discussion about it afterwards. We had the what-if conversation of how and what we would explain to each other if one suffered amnesia. It was a nice reminder of all of our years together. Though the movie wasn’t as heartwarming as “Fireproof”, it does somewhat provide a positive portrayal of marriage, so it’s better than a lot of movies out there.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I agree with all of the negative and positive comments I’ve read. However, when I think of what has happened in Hollywood over the years, and the trash that has come from so many evil and bad movies, this movie gave me hope. I have prayed for the movie industry, and continue to ask God to help filter Christians into this industry to turn it around and make a difference. Though this movie had some areas, as Christian, we may not agree with, there were some very good points made in this movie to influence the world around us. When was the last time you ever saw a movie that was not Christian show a scene about forgiveness as powerful as the one in this movie. I was so surprised by it and overjoyed because of the impact it may have on viewers who are not Christian.

Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t, be effective in the lives of viewers, but wow… secular movies just don’t give us this in our world. So, though there were still some worldly issues in the movie we may not agree with, the love story, the devotion, the ability to let something you love so much go, the ability to forgive, all spoke such loud truths of God’s love, that I felt my prayers were being answered and Christians were behind the scenes making a difference. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but what if this is the beginning of what God is doing behind the scenes. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Trudy, age 55 (USA)
Positive—I enjoyed this movie for what it was. I thought it was a little sad that the filmmakers twisted the real story, but, if you forget about that part, I think it can stand on its own. Channing Tatum was really likable, though I can’t say the same for Rachel McAdams.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Positive—We found this a great movie. Offensive does not do this movie justice. I haven’t even noticed anything that was not right, there probably was (like a swear or so), but the aim and spirit of this movie was right. It has been a long time for such a proper romantic movie to come from the makers in Hollywood.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jaap, age 38 (Netherlands)
Neutral—movie was cute and funny, but the sex scenes were over the top, and the lady constantly talking about sex, and the scene she and her husband played was awful. Also, her language about sex and using OH MY GOD over and over and over is an abomination. Just don’t understand it—they ruin every movie this way. Why is using oh my God just so natural for them. The sex scene with Reese R. was over the to,p and, of course, they were not married. This just feeds young people the wrong message. …I wish we could get decent films removing all the words and sex—I personally prefer suspense movies and also movies with good stories and good endings.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Carol W Patterson, age 69 (USA)
Neutral—This movie was very sad and difficult to watch. Sure it turns out good in the last 5 minutes, but man, what torture! Yes, there were two sexual scenes and nudity of the guy; I shut my eyes, but don’t even like being subjected to that. It was cute to see his adoration for her and how much he loved her to try and make it work, but it was gut wrenching to watch. I also don’t like how they kept portraying him so sexually through the whole movie, like they were doing that for the women who read romance novels, don’t know, but didn’t like that part.

The filming quality of the movie was good, but could rather not seen it. We were sad the rest of the night from how hard it was to watch that movie. Especially when she forgets him as her husband and thinks she is in love with her ex fiancé.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Samantha, age 37 (USA)
Neutral—…Think they said the s-word and another bad word, but can live with that. Was a cute movie and wish we had more like that.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Carol, age 69 (USA)
Neutral—A bit dull. In the first 10 minutes, if that, I was wishing we hadn’t gotten it on demand, and when my husband finally commented, I was tempted to cut our loses and go to sleep. My husband said “I was expecting something a bit more like ‘The Notebook’.” I would recommend that one over this one, yet it has a steamier sex scene. I don’t care for Rachel McAdams, either. I was surprised, knowing this was based on a true story of Christians, by some of the content of the movie.

It did eventually get better. There was one point were infidelity by another couple is discovered. ***SPOILER*** I was pleased that the woman said she stayed because she chose to dwell on all the rights the husband had done rather than the one wrong. Finally, we are shown that marriages can endure. ***END SPOILER*** Personally, someone else here read the book and that sounds better than the movie. I found it dull and not all that romantic. But kudos to the couple for staying together for better or worse.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Andrea, age 39 (USA)
Negative—I just finished reading the book The Vow: The True Events That Inspired The Movie, which was written by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter with Dana Wilkerson and published by B&H Publishing Group. I found the book in my local Christian bookstore. I watched the movie before I read the book. After watching the movie, I was very surprised that our Christan bookstore carried the book, as I found no Christian values or morals in the movie. In the movie, the couple moves in together before marriage, and make what I would consider to be very poor relationship decisions. The movie was okay, but not great, and definitely only for adults, as some of the conversations were very adult orientated, and there is one scene where Channing Tatum is seen nude (from behind).

On the contrary, the book was amazing. I could not put it down. The book was filled with strong Christian values and morals. The couple the movie is based on is obviously a strong Christian couple devoted to their relationship with Christ. I was very disappointed that the movie was very different from the book. I found that most things in the movie did not portray the true story that it was supposedly inspired by. I wish this movie had actually portrayed the true story of this couple, as their true story is inspiring and amazing!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: none
—Karen, age 29 (Canada)
Negative—I was disappointed at the movie because I thought the couple were Christians, since the real couple appeared on the 700 Club with their testimony. I found no reference to the Lord in the movie version, and, instead, a lot of drinking and worldliness. The couple were not even married in a church or by a pastor or priest. The language was offensive and ungodly. I would not recommend Christians go see this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Philip C., age 64 (USA)
Negative—I saw “The Vow” with my husband on Valentine’s day. We thought it would be a good movie that encouraged marriage. The name is misleading. It contains details about an affair, sex before marriage, cohabiting before marriage and divorce. While the couple does get back together, in the end, I don’t believe that it redeems this Hollywood version of what modern marriage looks like.

It was very depressing, and, instead of being uplifted, I left depressed at the thought that Hollywood was glamorizing a marriage in turmoil, more than one repairing itself. The movie could have been so much better than it was. I thought the acting quality was very good. The script could have been better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Tiffany, age 25 (USA)
Negative—My husband and I rented this movie, as he had heard the Carpenters on our local Christian radio station. We were saddened and shocked by the amount of sexual/sensual content in the movie. We abandoned watching the film, probably about halfway through. This could have been such a wonderful movie. I do think that a movie like this would necessarily have to delve some into sexual issues, but not in the way it was portrayed. We did not need to see actors in their underwear, or the nude backside of a man to tell this story. We did not need to see the couple after sex, barely covered by sheets. Showing a couple in bed is one thing, but just barely covering their bodies is quite another.

I’m quite surprised that the couple did not exercise more creative control over the content. I would dearly have like to watch the entire movie, but sadly, I just couldn’t watch any longer. (We stopped watching in about the middle of the scene where they are going into the lake.)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Mary, age 40 (USA)
Negative—Offensive moral issues aside, I found this movie to be poorly written and executed. I felt that there was a critical initial failure to establish a strong relationship/marriage in a way that should have produced a feeling of loss after the accident. This was mainly because there was little to no chemistry between Paige and Leo. I kept thinking that there was far better chemistry with Lily (Leo’s studio partner), and that this actress should have been cast as Paige, instead. I also found Leo’s character to be frustratingly dopey. I realize that the intent was probably to portray him as a likable, slow-witted teddy-bear, but the writing (and acting) failed.

And the number of times they engineered opportunities for Channing (Leo) to go shirtless was truly annoying. All the other characters that filled in the story were weak stereotypes, with cliché circumstances that surrounded them. Then, of course, there’s that little issue of the movie’s title not living up to the story… In all, I think they took a story that had some promise and turned it into a paint-by-numbers movie to attain commercial success — which they seemed to have achieved on a financial level.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Bruce, age 48 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I’m only 15, and my judgment might not be that great, but hear me out :) This was a great movie! It was a very sweet story. At one point, Leo is saying that he wants to win her back. I loved that, because I think women should be seen as a precious jewel that a man has to work for. Overall, Leo was sweet and patient, while Paige is recovering from her brain damage. I loved Channing Tatum’s acting, in showing his grief and frustration. Some of the things they say to each other I think is fine, because they are married. Married people are allowed to say stuff like that to each other. I’m not saying that it’s a good thing to put in a movie, but still.

There were a few scenes where they started to undress, but, thankfully, it didn’t show anything. There was another scene where Leo is walking around nude (it shows his butt). He does it out of habit, but Paige freaks out. There wasn’t as much swearing as there usually is in movies, but there were a few. I was glad that there weren’t many misuses of God’s name, because that is the main swear that I hate.

Overall, it was a great story about love and the importance of wedding vows, and how special they are. Leo loved Paige so much that he was going to stand by her no matter what happened. He said in his vows that he would, and he did. It was a very sweet story and a great movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Brianna, age 15 (USA)
Positive—I loved “The Vow”! I don’t think I would recommend this movie to too many people, because it was offensive in the aspect of sexual-related things. I, however, was not appalled, because the main characters are married and very genuine. I was slightly disappointed with the ending, because you get attached to the characters and ***SPOILER*** hope that they end up being together again. But it was disappointing, because it does not end in the way that you expect. ***END SPOILER***

I think that “The Vow” is an excellent date night movie and is fine to be watched by adults and teens.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Abbi, age 15 (USA)
Positive—I’m not a huge fan of Romantic movies, but I found this one really cute. It wasn’t overly offensive to me, just some profanities and one scene where you see Leo’s bottom.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Lili, age 14 (Canada)
Positive—I know that some people will think that I am too young to have a proper view of the movie, but please listen. I know that there was some profanity in the movie and one scene where Channing Tatum was nude, and I wish that these could be removed, because the movie would still work without them. However, the movie was good, because it showed someone who was determined to make his marriage work and who remained strong to his love, despite his wife suffering from amnesia, and these are all Christian values. ***SPOILER*** The fact that they got divorced was upsetting and went against Christian values, as well as the true story of what happened. ***END SPOILER*** However, the fact that Leo (Channing Tatum) tried was good and very positive, and you don’t get many Hollywood movies about upholding marriages, which suggests that some Christians were helping out.

Also, it showed another couple who were happily married, and also the strength of relationships between family members and friends. Also, at the end it suggests that Leo and his wife might get together again, which I thought was very good. The film also raises important moral issues which non-Christians and Christians alike can discuss. Overall, the movie was very good.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Vanessa, age 13 (United Kingdom)

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