24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Vow

Home theater: Channing Tatum, Tim and Eric top new releases roster

May 8, 2012 |  3:31 pm

The Vow
 Looking to catch a film on Video on Demand or DVD or Blu-ray? Following are some of the newest options available to home theater aficionados.

'The Vow'
Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $40.99
Available on VOD on May 8

Movie romances don't get much more gimmicky than “The Vow.” Based on a true story, the film stars Rachel McAdams as a boho type named Paige who suffers an accident that wipes out her memories of the previous five years -- including her entire relationship with her husband, Leo (Channing Tatum), and the reasons why she left behind her wealthy parents to pursue art. Leo has to re-woo Paige, and to reconnect her with who she used to be. “The Vow” is predictable, corny and loaded with stereotypes, but it's also genuinely moving, thanks largely to the performances of McAdams and Tatum. The DVD and Blu-ray come with featurettes, deleted scenes and a commentary track by director Michael Sucsy.

'The Front Line'
Well Go USA, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Jang Hun's pulpy military thriller “The Front Line” is set during the final days of the Korean War, as soldiers try to grab as much territory as they can before the final peace gets brokered. The film follows an officer sent to investigate a possible murder, who instead finds enemy combatants that have been living and working in the same place so long that they've developed a love-hate relationship with each other. The action is bloody and tense, but “The Front Line” also depicts reluctant warriors who understand the arbitrary nature of conflict. The DVD and Blu-ray include a featurette and a highlight reel.

'42nd Street Forever'
Blu-ray Edition
Synapse Blu-ray, $24.95

The ideas of exploitation films are often more enjoyable than the experience of actually sitting through the movies themselves -- the trailers nearly always promise more brain-jangling scenes of sex and violence than mere celluloid can deliver. “42nd Street Forever: Blu-ray Edition” collects nearly four hours of those trailers -- previously scattered across various other DVD anthologies -- accompanied by smart, funny commentary from grindhouse scholars. The previews run the gamut from tame B-movie sci-fi to wild T&A, but nearly all hint at a host of lurid thrills: flesh, gore and shocks. You'll have to keep repeating to yourself: “It's only a trailer…”

'Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie'
Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98/$34.98

Those unfamiliar with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's endurance-testing brand of “anti-comedy” probably shouldn't get anywhere near “Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie,” but the duo's fans won't be disappointed with the film's willful weirdness. The plot involves Tim and Eric -- as “themselves” --  squandering a huge budget for a big Hollywood production, which they then try to repay by taking over a run-down mall. Despite the presence of comedy heavyweights like Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis (in small roles), actual punch lines are in short supply here, since Heidecker and Wareheim generally find it funnier to annoy audiences with repetition and sloppiness. This is their shtick, though -- and good for them for remaining defiantly unpolished. The devotees will dig it and also will appreciate the DVD and Blu-ray, which adds typically twisted deleted scenes, a commentary track and a featurette.


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'Casablanca' tops lineup for film academy's outdoor theater

-- Noel Murray

Photo: Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams star in "The Vow." Credit: Kerry Hayes/Screen Gems

'The Vow' writers: A tale Tatum and McAdams could appreciate

February 20, 2012 |  7:30 am

The Vow, starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, has become a hit at the box office. Its writers have endured their own romantic struggles
What if you were engaged to your professional partner and called off the wedding -- but decided to keep working together anyway?  It could be a plot line from a movie like "The Vow" or "He's Just Not That Into You." But it's something a tad more surreal: the real-life story of the writing duo behind those films.

Directed by Michael Sucsy and released last week, "The Vow" is set to close out a strong holiday weekend with a likely four-day haul that will top $27 million, making it the most lucrative release of the young year. The relationships in the Rachel McAdams-Channing Tatum romantic drama, in which he must court his amnesiac wife anew after she wakes from a coma and reverts to an earlier version of herself, are complicated enough.

But the tale of writers Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein rivals anything their characters grapple with.

Kohn and Silverstein dated for seven years, then broke up in the early 2000s. They proceeded to marry other people -- she, in 2005, music executive Jason Linn; he, two years later, actress Busy Phillips. They each now have daughters with their new spouses. But they continue to collaborate on scripts about relationships and romance -- in fact, they've found far more success since their breakup -- as they practice what is surely one of the oddest professional relationships in a town filled with them.

Abby: "It's a little weird," speaking by phone this weekend in a joint interview with her writing partner, the two routinely finishing each other's thoughts.
Marc: "Maybe more than a little weird."
Abby: "I think when I first started dating [my husband], he had questions, but he got it pretty quickly."
Marc: "My wife had a tougher time at the beginning."
Abby: "It's not simple."
Marc: "It's not a simple thing to explain on a first date."
Abby: "On a third date."

After meeting in film school at USC and hooking up as lovers and filmmaking partners, Kohn and Silverstein graduated and began writing feature scripts about young love. Though only in their 20s, they soon sold a pitch, a back-to-school comedy titled "Never Been Kissed." Within a year, the movie was shooting with Drew Barrymore. It was considered a respectable hit when it came out in 1999.

PHOTOS: "The Vow" premiere

The years that followed were rougher. The pair toiled in television, watching as pilot deals came and went. For a time their relationship intensified -- they became engaged and were just a few months from the wedding -- then it sputtered. The two decided to break up. (Abby: "When we were younger it was work all the time." Marc: "It was probably a little unhealthy, though we got a lot more done." Abby: "We got a lot more done, and we also didn't do anything else.")

Most couples would have thrown in the towel on their creative partnership at that point. But the breakup wasn't messy, and besides, the two had more pressing concerns.

Marc: "When we decided not to get married, we were contractually obligated on a pilot."


Abby: "We were in pre-production; we couldn't take time off."
Marc: "So we figured we should try to work together."
Abby: "We had to do it."
Marc: "It was not great."
Abby: "But it didn't take that long for it to get normal again."

They continued with that pilot, then others. At one point they even created a show,  "Splitsville," that was based on their own story. It didn't turn into a series, but the pair continued trying to get a movie or television show going.

Then a few years ago, a break came. After numerous writers tried to crack the story on a thin self-help book called "He's Just Not That Into You," Kohn and Silverstein had the idea to turn it into an ensemble romance with overlapping characters. They  were given the assignment, then watched as the movie went on to become a hit in February 2009.

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Would you help 'The Vow's' Channing Tatum pick his next film?

February 15, 2012 |  1:20 pm

Channing Tatum knows firsthand the power of social media — he has more than 800,000 followers on Twitter and made Facebook videos to promote his recent hit "The Vow."

But in an interview about how those platforms helped make his latest film a hit (for more on that topic, see this story in Wednesday's Times), Tatum said he has bigger ambitions in the world of likes and retweets: He wants fans to help him pick his movies.

"I really, really hope I can be like, 'Guys, what do you want me to do? Option A or Option B?'" he said. "And people can vote and then I can go do that. Then I can get notes on what we did right and wrong."

PHOTOS: 'The Vow' premiere

The actor, whose next starring role comes in March with "21 Jump Street," sees the approach as part of a larger evolution for the digital world beyond a platform for marketing and audience research.

"Studios — rightfully so because that's the system — try to manipulate [people] into wanting something they might not want," he said. "I don't think that's the right way to go about it. I want to straight up ask them: Should I make a comedy? An action movie? A love story?"

But as much as he values how social media fosters a  conversation with fans, Tatum acknowledged that more operational details elude him. The actor said he "is not a computer person" and, like many other stars, pays someone to manage his Twitter and Facebook accounts.


Review: 'The Vow' leaves you wanting more

'The Vow' a hit after marketers say 'I do' to Twitter, Facebook

'The Vow' sets Valentine's Day record with $11.6 million box office

— Ben Fritz

'The Vow': What is it about Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams?

February 13, 2012 |  9:28 am

In the weeks leading up to the release of "The Vow," it was easy to knock the movie: the amnesiac plot line (Rachel McAdams' character wakes up from a coma and must be wooed anew by hubby Channing Tatum), the lovelorn glances, the schmaltzy sentiments.

Come to think of it, it was easy to knock the movie after it came out too; self-knowing irony isn't exactly the name of this game, which lends itself to all sorts of comic opportunities from the cheap seats. That Tatum and McAdams' acting, which in recent years has been characterized by his stoned-faced qualities and her chipper ones, hasn't lately made the Oscar voters come running added to the fun.

Yet after the weekend's heart-stopping box office — $41.7 million, well above expectations and in fact the sixth-highest February opening in history — it's clear that, for all the ways one might compare this movie to a cross between "50 First Dates" and "While You Were Sleeping," we still rushed out to see it.

PHOTOS: 'The Vow' premiere

The truth is it shouldn't be entirely surprising. McAdams and Tatum are shaky leading draws  in movies that aren't romances — see under "Morning Glory" and "The Eagle." But they do OK when star-crossed love enters the picture (see under: McAdams' "The Time Traveler's Wife" and "The Notebook" and Tatum's "Dear John.")

They're apparently even more persuasive when they're star-crossed together: "The Vow" is on pace to take in more money than any of those films, and in fact more money than any movie than either of them has done as leading actors on their own, save for Tatum's "G.I. Joe," a different beast entirely.

How does that work exactly? Why do actors we're only lukewarm on apart work when together? Certainly the traits that can seem like too much on their own — say, McAdams' perkiness and Tatum's earnestness —can be complementary when mixed, two extremes somehow neutralized, the filmic equivalent of sweet-and-sour sauce.

It's why Meg Ryan's constant poutiness and Billy Crytal's relentless wise-guy-ness worked well in "When Harry Met Sally" (also, incidentally, a better performer than many movies they did on their own), or how Audrey Hepburn's effusiveness and George Peppard's stoicism made for a classic in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Not to compare this movie to those classics. But in that sense, at least, "The Vow" has located the formula of many cinematic romances — they work best not necessarily because the actors seem like a real-life couple, but because the traits of one half mitigate the other.


Review: 'The Vow' leaves you wanting more

'The Vow' leads strong weekend with $41.7 million

'The Vow' fails to live up to its promise, critics say

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum in "The Vow." Credit: Screen Gems

'The Vow' fails to live up to its promise, critics say

February 10, 2012 |  3:29 pm

The Vow

On paper, the new film "The Vow" might seem like a rom-com juggernaut. The film boasts swoony leads Rachel McAdams ("The Notebook") and Channing Tatum ("Dear John"), writing alums from "My So-Called Life" and "Valentine's Day," and a story inspired by true events: a newlywed couple trying to reconnect after the wife suffers accident-related amnesia. But while "The Vow" appears poised to win the box office this week, critical reaction to the film has been lukewarm.

In a mixed review, The Times' Betsy Sharkey calls "The Vow" "a movie that leaves you wanting more. To care more, to cry more, to love more." While Sharkey commends Rogier Stoffers' cinematography, Kalina Ivanov's production design and Jessica Lange's supporting performance, she also writes that "The problems start with a very lopsided script." Four people share the screenplay credit, Sharkey notes, and "you feel their separate sensibilities fighting for control." As for the lead actors, Tatum fares well enough, but McAdams is given less to work with ("a lot of smiles and blank stares") and thus feels wasted.

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