More than a dozen Angelenos navigate Valentine's Day from early morning until midnight. Three couples awake together, but each relationship will sputter; are any worth saving? A grade-school boy wants flowers for his first true love; two high school seniors plan first-time sex at noon; a TV sports reporter gets the assignment to find romance in LA; a star quarterback contemplates his future; two strangers meet on a plane; grandparents, together for years, face a crisis; and, an "I Hate Valentine's Day" dinner beckons the lonely and the lied to. Can Cupid finish his work by midnight?Written by
As a disgruntledly (not a word, shut up) unemployed film critic, I must take drastic measures in concealing my opinion towards a movie you are going to wind up seeing regardless. This time, I have taken my single self to see Valentine's Day, to see if it can measure up to last year's star-sprinkled surprise-surprise hit comedy He's Just Not That into You. I wanted to see that if despite without the lovey-dovey person by my side (which has been a vacant position for a while) the movie can still deliver, entertain, and touch the soul.
Also, I wanted to see if people working at the theater would dedicate a bit of time from their ordinary day to point out that it's strange that I am watching a movie called Valentine's Day by myself. I approached the ticket counter and asked for my ticket. After momentary laughter the man at the counter presented me with my ticket. I then enter through the doors and approach the lady ripping the tickets and sending me in the right direction. After her laughter subdued, she pointed me to theater #1.
Valentine's Day works in the tradition of last year's February romantic success story, and Love Actually, a British dramatic rom-com that jump-started the technique of applying multiple love stories in a film. That way, if one story doesn't work, you have multiple other chances to still enjoy the movie. To spice things up, the movie contains one of the biggest casts of stars since the never-duplicated insanity of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. What other movie can boast the collaboration of Jennifer Garner, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, and even Shirley MacLaine?
But of course, when you have this many stars, that means so many stories; and less time for character development. This is where the film mostly disappoints, very little developing or changing from anyone associated with the movie. Without revealing too much, there is literally 10 or 11 (lost count) plot lines mixing and intertwining together in a span of just two hours. This equals an average of 12 minutes per story. In actuality however, some stories are actually shorter than others. Katherine Fugate had the right idea when writing the screenplay, but the execution wasn't the best considering that some stories worked and some were just boring to the core. Poor Garry Marshall can only do so much, even though his best days (Pretty Woman, Happy Days) are long gone.
The limited time for acting also diminished the performances of almost every single star in the movie. However, the acting performances of the younger tots (Taylor Swift, Emma Roberts, Taylor Lautner, Carter Jenkins) were much weaker when compared to the veterans Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Shirley MacLaine, and Héctor Elizondo. One other note: Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace, and Bradley Cooper are three men that given the little time in this movie delivered swell performances that was undermined only by the writing. Their comic timing kept the movie afloat when the flick was threatening to totally flounder.
Like I said before, some stories worked, and other stories were absolutely dreadful to watch. The high school-based stories in Valentine's Day were the weakest, shortest, and the most pointless. In the meantime, the Anne Hathaway/Topher Grace story and the conflict involving Kutcher, Alba, Jennifer Garner, and Patrick Dempsey were the most entertaining to watch. Nearly all the stories had their share of clichés, with only one of them containing a surprise or two. The chemistry wasn't that intense, because there was no time for it to happen. The dialogue was never allowed to intensify or dwell deeper into the concept of love. A few good one-liners here and there, but nothing really worth remembering.
Bottom Line: The problem with Valentine's Day is very simple: we've seen it before and after 2009 being such a good year for romantic comedies, the expectations are higher. It takes more than just a bunch of big stars to propel a rom-com to quality heights; you need strong writing, good chemistry, strong direction, and a hintage of unpredictability. That's how The Proposal, He's Just Not That Into You, The Ugly Truth, and especially (500) Days of Summer made 2009 one of the greatest years for romance in a long time. This was also the issue with Couple's Retreat, the last blockbuster romantic comedy of 09. Valentine's Day has its moments indeed (Anne Hathaway is hilarious), but don't expect it to be anything better than mediocre. Simply there were too many stories and most of them with less depth than a puddle.
And none of this criticism has to do with the fact that I saw the movie by myself.
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