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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Valentine's Day

MOVIE REVIEWS

VALENTINE'S DAY (2010)

Starring Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, Topher Grace, Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Emma Roberts, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Carter Jenkins, Queen Latifah, Bryce Robinson, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Kathy Bates, Matthew Walker, Larry Miller, Megan Suri, Beth Kennedy, Katherine LaNasa, Kristen Schaal, Christine Lakin, Erin Matthews, Cleo King,  Jonathan Morgan Heit, Tracy Reiner, Joe Mantegna and Garry Marshall.

Screenplay by Katherine Fugate.

Directed by Garry Marshall.

Distributed by New Line Cinema.  124 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

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Valentine's Day

For those of you who felt that He’s Just Not That Into You was a nice date movie but would have benefited from just a bit more star power, Valentine’s Day is here to save the day.

Valentine’s Day probably at least doubles the celeb-wattage of the already overstuffed big-name cast of He’s Just Not ….  I’d be shocked if there is a regularly working actor with a SAG card who has not been in one or the other of these films.  In fact, hunk du jour Bradley Cooper was in both.

Unfortunately, though, Valentine’s Day also halves the humor and intelligence quotient of He’s Just Not …, making it eventually a much more frustrating viewing experience.  Actually, saying it’s only worse by half is giving Valentine’s Day way too much credit.  The fraction of likeability is much lower. 

There is only so long that you can be amused by playing spot-the-star.  Eventually most audiences expect a bit of an intriguing storyline and likable characters in their movies – even a fluffy romantic comedy strictly intended to capture the date crowds on the weekend of the holiday which it salutes.

It is here where Valentine’s Day stumbles badly while He’s Just Not That Into You – and the similarly big-casted British cousin, Love Actually, which this film is blatantly trying to rip off were able to sprint.

Valentine’s Day isn’t so unbearable just because it’s poorly written, nor because it is horribly predictable, nor because it is hideously sappy (the two movies I just compared it to unfavorably also had way too many sappy moments) – though all of those points contribute to the film’s general sense of endlessness. 

It’s because the film is peppered through with scenes and actions that have absolutely no other purpose than to make women say “awwwwww!”  Somehow the film’s absolute clinical allegiance to true romance comes off as hopelessly crass and cynical, which is an interesting trick. 

Valentine’s Day feels like a romantic comedy that was plotted by a machine – pushing buttons gracelessly and pandering towards its supposed audience. 

We float back and forth from one famous couple to another, learning superficial facts about their love lives and how they are connected to the other characters, eventually giving the whole movie the lightweight feel of a big-screen episode of The Love Boat.

And it seems to last forever….

The only thing worse than a clumsy and obvious romantic comedy is one that doesn’t realize it is going on way too long. 

Valentine’s Day may have been the longest two hours in my life.  The last 45 minutes or so, I kept thinking, okay, it’s going to end now – and then it just kept going.  At over two hours long, at least a half hour could be shaved off without anyone minding.  Hell, I personally would shave off about two hours. 

The cynicism is extended to the glitzy casting.  He’s Just Not That Into You and Love Actually may have overdone it on the famous names, but there is no one who will question the quality of the actors brought in to play the parts.  Those films had serious actors – not just famous names.

Very few of the celebs in Valentine's Day are actually known for their strong acting chops.  Jessica Alba?  Ashton Kutcher?  Jessica Biel?  George Lopez?  Taylor Lautner?  Taylor Swift?  Not that it matters, the few who are considered to be quality actors (i.e. Anne Hathaway, Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts, Kathy Bates) are dragged into the muck and come out looking just as bad as the rest of their castmates.  Even worse, actually, because we know that they can do better.

It doesn’t help that they are directed by Garry Marshall, who seems like a really nice guy, but his movies all take on a saccharine sweet aftertaste.  Still it is not beyond Marshall’s talents to make a strong film when he has good material.  In fact, he had made good films which pretty much jump-started the careers of two of the biggest stars here – Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and The Princess Diaries with Anne Hathaway.  This early career debt is undoubtedly why those two big names agreed to appear in this insignificant little trifle.

Sadly, this time around, Marshall did not have the material to make it worth their time and talents.

To think, just two weeks ago, I thought Leap Year was going to be the worst February-holiday-based film I’d see this year.  I was wrong.  Lord help us, I hope no one is out there filming Presidents' Day.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 12, 2010.

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Copyright ©2010  PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 12, 2010.