Review: Valentine's Day
PLOT: When Reed asks his lady love to marry him, she says yes. He tells everybody he knows, which seems to set off a series of events for those around him, all of which involving Valentines Day. An older couple celebrate another anniversary, but a deep dark secret is revealed. A teenage couple decide they are going to have sex for the first time, like ever. And another woman thinks she has found Mr. Right, but soon finds that this particular Mr. already has a Mrs. All of this is accompanied by corny dialogue and a bunch of pop tunes. It gets sweeter than all the Valentine candy that you can eat.
This weekend Valentines Day is upon us. February 14th brings a sense of wonder and romance to some, but it also brings misery and hell to others. And you can bet, this year, many will be drawn to the latest film by Garry Marshall, VALENTINES DAY. No matter what I say here, it wont stop most people from going to see all those major movie stars, together for a little romantic comedy that promises a whole lot of love and laughs. The fact that it is predictable, pedestrian and just badly written wont sway those looking to escape inside the love lives of others. But consider this, the woman sitting next to me, who absolutely loves this particular genre felt that it was too syrupy. And she, admittedly, is all about the syrup. This has not a single ounce of the charm that you might find in LOVE, ACTUALLY or a number of other films revolving around romance. Its just plain bad.
We are first introduced to a young man who awkwardly attempts to propose to the woman he is waking up next to. Ashton Kutcher is Reed Bennett and the young lady is Jessica Alba as Morley Clarkson. As she sleeps, he sneaks over to her, pulls out a ring and reaches for her hand. First joke of the evening she fell asleep with her Blackberry. Ah, how cute. Some of the women in the audience squealed with approval, while a few others groaned. Morley wakes to find Reed next to her. He says a few well chosen words, and it is suddenly official, they are getting married. Yet since this is the first scene in the film, you know things are going to change. And usually, you know exactly how things are going to change, and for who.
The problem is that most of these talented actors are wasted here. Weve got Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Eric Dane, Julia Roberts, Kathy Bates, Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace and a bunch more. I was most impressed with Anne Hathaway, Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo. As an older married couple, MacLaine and Elizondo have a very sweet bit of chemistry going on. Both actors are able to shine even if their particular story line doesnt ring true. And Hathaway, who plays a phone sex operator in a new relationship with Topher Grace, is in good form. Ironically, their story seemed a bit more honest, but that may simply be because Anne makes it work. I also found it hard to not feel a little something for Jennifer Garner. Again, her story didnt have an ounce of reality, but it will invoke a few girl power moments when she gets even with a married man.
The script by Katherine Fugate (Army Wives) is structured similarly to an episode of Saturday Night Live in some ways. Well, an unfunny, too long, and probably on Lifetime type of SNL episode. We are introduced to the characters, we meet up with them later on, and then we watch as their relationship grows or not. This simply feels like a sitcom or a skit, probably on par with the late Seventies, early Eighties television show, The Love Boat. Sure there is an arch for each story, but it is a very weak and poorly structured arch. And did I mention the dialogue? Ugh. When one character goes home to his wife who he has been cheating on, he begins to juggle for his daughter. The wife responds with a cute little, oh, hes so good at juggling. Oh stop! And the hits just keep on coming! I also dare you to not find yourself completely annoyed by Taylor Swift. She seems very sweet in person, but my God was she irritating here. This is an awful performance.
Valentines Day stumbles along and really doesnt feel romantic or charming. One of the most touching stories revolves around Julia Roberts, who does a fine job along with Bradley Cooper. I liked those scenes sort of, but again, you could see where they were heading. And both of these fine actors were painfully underused (yes, I think Ms. Roberts can be a fine actress). As for the rest of the stories, it is hard to develop any real emotion for a bunch of random characters that sloppily interconnect, and of course, somehow tie together in some way. The truth is, occasionally I dont mind a good chick flick, but this isnt good. So if you are looking for a romantic movie this Valentines, this isnt it. Im sure there will be some that think it is delightful, and Im happy for them. Ill probably just stick to WHEN HARRY MET SALLY or something like that. My rating 3/10 -- JimmyO
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