gives the holiday, romance, romantic comedies, and florists a bad name. Director Garry Marshall helms this ensemble piece which is long on running time (125 painful minutes) and short on laughs. Valentine's Day
's many shortcomings can't be overcome by throwing another recognizable 'name' actor into the mix, though that seems to be what's happened here. Jam-packed with familiar faces, Valentine's Day
is plagued with phoned-in performances, banal dialogue, and some of the most ridiculous storylines you'll ever encounter in a major feature film.
Had unknowns taken on the roles in Valentine's Day
this movie would have gone straight to the discount DVD bin. It's like four episodes of a bad sitcom spliced together into a two hour movie. Had it actually been shown on TV, it's likely all we would have seen is the first half hour before it was yanked off the air. It's that
Director Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate (The Prince and Me) set out to please every demographic with their intertwining love stories, and in taking such a scattershot approach, they've failed miserably at pleasing anyone much less everyone. For the 20/30-somethings there's Ashton Kutcher as a florist who thinks he loves Jessica Alba, but she's actually more into her job than their relationship. And Jennifer Garner's a schoolteacher who wants to play doctor with Patrick 'McDreamy' Dempsey but he's got a secret. Jessica Biel can't get a date on Valentine's Day and Eric Dane is a football player trying to decide whether to retire after a loss in the playoffs (he's also got a secret). Then there's Anne Hathaway using multiple accents as an office worker/phone sex operator who is just starting a relationship with Topher Grace, a guy in the mail room who doesn't know about her secret sex operator gig.
Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts in 'Valentine's Day.'© New Line Cinema
For the 40/50-somethings you've got Julia Roberts
as an Army officer returning home for just a one-day leave sitting next to one of the handsomest men on the planet (Bradley Cooper
) on her flight into LAX. Jamie Foxx wants to be taken seriously as a sports reporter but his boss (Kathy Bates) wants him to do fluff stories on Valentine's Day so he's out looking for cute stories of love. 60+somethings get Shirley MacLaine (also
hiding a secret) and Hector Elizondo (who's never missed a Garry Marshall film) as an old married couple who dispense love advice.
And of course they can't leave out the younger audience so we're all forced to endure Taylor Swift as a high school student in love/lust with Taylor Lautner. Poor Lautner, Fugate wrote him a joke about not wanting to take his shirt off in public and I bet it was as painful to deliver as it is to listen to. And poor audience for having to watch Swift try and make it through about 10 minutes of screen time. Here's hoping it's the only time we ever see her in front of the camera in anything other than a music video.
Also aiming to please teens are Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins as high school seniors who want to get it on before going off to different colleges. Oh, and lest they leave anyone out, Fugate and Marshall include a kiddie romance that's sugary sweet and so very, very silly.
Even the background players aren't immune to the silliness of the script. Just to give you an example, there's a scene in Ashton Kutcher's
floral shop where he's waiting on Patrick Dempsey (who skips out of standing in line by playing the 'I'm a doctor on my way to surgery' card). So, this long, long line of customers is standing at the check-out, waiting patiently to be helped by the one employee handling the register on this busiest day of the year. Obviously these people have all been waiting quite a while, and they're each in line for what we assume are good reasons. Yet the first person in line in the background of the Kutcher/Dempsey scene steps up to the cashier, says something about what she wants, and then quickly says she needs to go get her wallet. Huh? You stand in line for who knows how long only to say you need to go get your wallet? That's just one example out of many of the ludicrous, sloppy vignettes that make up this ill-conceived, cliche-stuffed, poorly executed and riddled with stereotypes romcom.
Jessica Biel plays a publicist and Eric Dane's a football stud in 'Valentine's Day.'© New Line Cinema
Most of the actors get by with just 10 or so minutes of screen time. Lucky them. And thankfully for all of our sakes, singer Swift's one of those whose appearance on screen is cut short because of all the actors who have to be given something to do. There's next to nothing in the way of character development anywhere to be found in Valentine's Day
, and other than Kutcher, Biel, and Garner, the audience is going to be left not caring one iota who ends up with who or who winds up hating Valentine's Day (the holiday) and all its empty promises.
Biel's character throws an annual 'I Hate Valentine's Day' party and while I won't go as far as Garner's character does at Biel's shindig and bash in a heart-shaped piñata to express my feelings, I wouldn't be exaggerating to say I hate Valentine's Day the movie. It's everything that's wrong with romantic comedies right now.
Valentine's Day was directed by Garry Marshall and is rated PG-13 for some sexual material and brief partial nudity.
Theatrical Release: February 12, 2010
Disclosure: This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy