Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Valentine's Day


Review by Mark David Campbell

I enjoy a good romantic comedy as much as the next guy.  And many of my favorite romantic comedies in the last two-plus decades have had director Garry Marshall behind the camera – including the immortal Pretty Woman.  Sad to say, Valentine’s Day will not be joining the ranks of my favorites.

One would think that a film with this much star power couldn’t possibly fail, but you know that old chestnut about “too many cooks”, right?  The truth is, Valentine’s Day is just a silly, disorganized mess.  There are too many stories being told, and almost none of them are even remotely interesting.

For yes, the movie is a montage of intertwining set-pieces, much like last year’s passable He’s Just Not That Into You.  For example, you have the story of a football player (Eric Dane) who has just been released by his team, who calls a press conference that blatantly interrupts the day of self-loathing that his publicist (Jessica Biel) always endures on February 14th, but could be a career-maker for a local sports reporter (Jamie Foxx).

There’s also the story of Reed (Ashton Kutcher), a flower-shop owner who decides to propose to his career-minded girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba).  Meanwhile, Reed’s friend Julia (Jennifer Garner) is smitten with a divorced doctor (McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey).  Neither love story is that interesting, but it is the friendship between Reed and Julia that makes the segment tolerable.

For the teenagers in the audience we have two teens (Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift) making out in front of a TV camera, as well as two other teens (Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins) who plan to, shall we say, “go all the way” during their lunch break at high school.

Then there’s the story of Jason (Topher Grace), who accidentally overhears his girlfriend (Anne Hathaway) at work – as a phone-sex operator, which actually held my interest, and not for its salacity.  But perhaps the best vignette was turned in by Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts, as a recently-divorced man and an Army captain chatting it up during a very long plane flight.

I’m guessing it was the prospect of having so many stars in the cast, in the trailer, in the poster, etc. that was too tantalizing for the studio to dismiss.  This superb cast has a lot of fans, of all ages, and as such, Valentine’s Day will probably make a ton of money.  But I think that the movie would have been much better if Marshall had given his experienced eye towards quality and not quantity.  Save the best and expand on it, and chuck the rest. 

2 / 5 stars

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