Valentine's Day


Directed by: Gary Marshall
Written by:Katherine Fugate
Starring: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Carter Jenkins, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Bryce Robinson, Taylor Swift
Released: February 11, 2010
Grade: B-

Valentine’s Day turned out to be semi-decent.  Not as bad as I thought it would be.  It’s still got issues.  I don’t want people thinking I’m going soft on this tired, predictable genre. I'm starting to think that I was influenced by the free Roses chocolates that were handed out before the movie began.  Still, I believe it’s got just enough goodness to satisfy the masses.

It begins with Ashton Kutcher lying in bed with Jessica Alba.  It’s early morning one of the most romantic days of the year – Valentine’s Day.  He jumps up, kneels down and pops the question.  She says “yes” – a fact which he then screams out to the entire neighbourhood from his balcony.

Over the next 24 hours, we will follow a seemingly endless number of characters in their quest to understand love.  I don’t even think I have enough time to name the entire cast let alone detail each of their characters.  It’s a “who’s who” of Hollywood.  There’s young (Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift), old (Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo) and a bunch in between.

I’m not sure what writer Katherine Fugate (The Prince & Me) and director Gary Marshall (Pretty Woman) are trying to achieve with this story.  It’s obvious that there are way too many characters.  Some of them are useless (e.g. Kathy Bates) and some are really, really irritating (e.g. Jessica Alba).

If half the cast were dispensed with, there’d be more time for decent character development.  We’d get to understand them and perhaps, even feel for them.  I couldn’t help but imagine (while my mind wandered during the boring scenes) what acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson could have done with this cast and concept.  He’s mastered the art of an ensemble drama (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) and I’d pay triple to see his interpretation.

Before I get too negative, let’s turn to the bright spots.  This may be difficult to digest but music sensation Taylor Swift was my pick of the cast. She plays a ditsy blonde teenager who is hopelessly in love.  Maybe she can relate?  It’s Swift’s first major movie role and I sense it will open up a fresh income stream.  Also good are Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper, who play two people stuck on a long flight together, and Anne Hathaway, a receptionist who moonlights as a phone sex operator.

It’s a tad long at 125 minutes but there were two nice twists in the end.  I guess they’re not really “twists” but rather, we see how certain characters in the film are connected.  There’s a sweet scene involving Julia Roberts in a bedroom (that’s all I can say) that beautifully wraps up her part in this broad story.

When I left the cinema, I jumped in the lift and saw an advertisement on the glass – flogging off a $200 giant teddy bear as the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.  Yep, it was back to reality.  There’s nothing like some quality commercialism to cheapen a special occasion.  So let me finish up with three pieces of wisdom – (1) don’t buy a teddy bear costing $200, (2) go and see this movie if you like romantic comedies, and (3) spend Valentine’s Day with someone you love, doing something you love.