I’m often as impressed by how much a trailer can oversell a movie as I am by how well a tagline can sum one up. Valentine’s Day is a perfect example. The trailer made the movie look like it was a rollicking star-studded holiday event. The Black Eyed Peas’ song “I Gotta Feeling” playing in the background promised that it was going to be a “good good night.” In the end, however, the tagline was more accurate. Valentine’s Day is “A Love Story. More or Less.” In other words, it’s a movie about love that just doesn’t feel like anything special at all.
Valentine’s Day is a collection of interconnected stories about various people in Los Angeles and the ups and downs they endure on Valentine’s Day. There’s the hopeless romantic who gets engaged and unengaged in one day, the best friends who fall for each other, teenagers in love, the long-married in love, children in love, a woman who finds out she’s in love with a married man, the single people who loathe Valentine’s Day, and strangers on a plane trying to get home for the holiday. I’m not sure screenwriter Katherine Fugate missed any of the expected plotlines.
Valentine’s Day stars 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, and Taylor Swift (please, please, no one cast her ever again). This huge cast almost feels like a waste, but really carries the movie. None of the characters are developed fully enough to showcase the talent of the actors, but the fun of the film rests in watching each at work. Kutcher steals the show, as his character weaves several of the stories together. He brings a lot of charm to the movie and in a lot of places is the only person keeping the film as upbeat as the trailer promised. Dempsey’s character and his performance are so clichéd it hurts. Jessica Biel’s performance also made me cringe, but I’m not sure if she was to blame or if it was the heavy-handed nature of the screenplay. There’s just no excuse for the Taylors.
Overall, Valentine’s Day is funny, but not memorable. The movie does have some surprising plot twists and genuinely touching resolutions to several of the storylines, but generally, in trying to do too much, Valentine’s Day fails to do much well. Also, I just have to say, the passing references to Indiana are inaccurate and mean.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t even seem to come out strongly on love’s side, which I think makes it a better movie for going to with friends and heckling than on a date that you’re hoping will be romantic. In a pretty obvious article published the weekend Valentine’s Day opened, CNN pointed out how many bad romantic comedies are released around Valentine’s Day. Sure, this is true, but I think, like a spectator sport, a bad romantic comedy is best enjoyed by watching it with people who you like cheering or booing with. A bad romantic comedy can be pretty enjoyable when watched with the right people. Why else would they still have such box office draw? I don’t think movie audiences aren’t smart enough to tell the difference between the good movies and the bad ones. The problem with Valentine’s Day isn’t that it’s a cheesy rom-com, it’s that it feels like a total lackluster imitation of Love Actually and He’s Just Not That Into You and, unlike those two movies, it feels like it is resting on the laurels of its all-star ensemble cast. Still, it wasn’t as bad as Leap Year.
2.5 / 5 stars
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