Friday, February 26, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day, Garry Marshall's (Pretty Woman) latest movie packs in an all star cast.  In alphabetical order: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane and Patrick Dempsey from Grey's Anatomy, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner (Twilight), Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift and more, all share the spotlight in this messy romantic comedy.  Unfortunately, an ensemble as strong as this one does not suffice to make Valentine's Day a film worth seeing.

If you are expecting a light, airy, fun romantic comedy like I was you will be disappointed because this was neither very romantic nor very funny. Everywhere you look you will see a beautiful, famous, smiling actor but the film is extremely shallow with a terrible plot and very little character development.  We follow the intertwining lives and love tribulations of many different couples and singles as they handle the joys, and mostly the burdens, of Valentine's Day. Lots of people are saying it and it is true, the film is a knock-off of Love Actually, except much worse. 

Ashton Kutcher, a heartbroken florist, and Jennifer Garner who plays his best friend, have the most screen time.  Their acting is typical and what is happening to them remotely interesting compared to the dozen or so other subplots.  But the scene where Garner pretends to be a waitress to confront her lying boyfriend (who proceeds to choke on his drink, what else...) while he is having a meal with his wife was just too much.  Anne Hathaway as an undercover phone sex entertainer was absurd, as was Queen Latifah, her boss who overhears a raunchy conversation but lets her carry on and even takes a call herself.  Bradley Cooper's character, though charming, was absolutely not credible- from his sweet, flirtatious interactions with Julia Roberts on the plane, to the final surprise revelation. The teenage high school couples were dreadful to watch, especially the part where one of the boys gets caught naked with only a guitar for cover by his girlfriend's mother.  Like the rest of the cast, even the cute, little boy had a ridiculously predictable role and it was clear from the start who he was in love with.  It's a pity to see so much talent go to waste, particularly Julia Roberts who really does not belong in this chaos.

The second half of the movie was even worse than the first and started veering towards the outrageous during a male bashing dinner party that single and disgruntled Jessica Biel hosts yearly (who organizes an "I hate Valentine's Day" dinner in the same room as a wedding is taking place???).  Things really started to go downhill for me at that point and the last 30 minutes or so I was literally rolling my eyes to myself.

There were too many actors, too many side plots, none of which were engaging or developed enough.  Of course, everything ties together nicely and neatly at the end, like a Valentine's Day gift with a bow.  But don't be fooled, this movie is no present.  If you have nothing better to do, go ahead and watch it.  Otherwise, treat yourself to a nice romantic evening with your loved one or by yourself.  It will be time much better spent. 

My rating: 5

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