Valentine's Day brings a cast together of so many famous faces, that it's impossible to list them all. Wait, no it's not. Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, Bryce Robinson, Carter Jenkins, Emma Roberts, Eric Dane, George Lopez, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Julia Roberts, Kathy Bates, Patrick Dempsey, Queen Latifah, Shirley MacLaine, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift and Topher Grace. CLICK HERE to read Bayer's TSR of Valentine's Day
All of those names above are the reason to see this film. That doesn't mean you'll be engaged by any of the performances, but instead you'll at least be occupied by recognizing all of the famous faces.
Garry Marshall directs these tales of intertwining love set in Los Angeles on Valentine's Day.
Nick, did this work for you? In my review I said Love Actually is sugar, and Valentine's Day is corn syrup. It will make money, people will say they like it. But that doesn't mean it's good for them.
Before I hand this "He Said" off to you, here's my ranking of total enjoyment I received from each story line.
1. Julia Roberts & Bradley Cooper 2. George Lopez & whoever 3. Jessica Biel & Jamie Foxx 4. Carter Jenkins & Emma Roberts 5. Ashton Kutcher & Jessica Alba & Jennifer Garner & Patrick Dempsey 6. The Taylors 7. Bryce Robinson (the little blond kid) 8. Shirley MacClaine & Hector Elizondo
But there's a big drop off after number one.
He Said (Nick Allen)
It did work for me. In fact, I was thinking halfway through the movie, "My God, if this film were to be a metaphorical burning plane crash, it would still be watchable." Is it because so many familiar faces would be going down, or that I just like looking at so many pretty mugs? I'm not sure. But luckily I can abandon my catastrophe metaphor, as I liked this movie. Much more than I expected.
I agree that a movie like Valentine's Day may be corn syrup, but it goes along with the idea that people know what they are getting themselves into. Various stories, somehow connected, told with a bunch of celebrities and with moments that are warming, cutesy, or barf-worthy. I began to think of how this movie deals with romantic comedy cliches and connected it to Valentine's Day itself - both the genre and holiday can be done with cliche, but it's the thought that counts. That being said, the stories of the characters are tied up surprisingly tightly, and the impossibility factor doesn't go overboard like other movies begging for your heart strings do. (The blond kid I am not very supportive in this factor). It even admits the whole airport cliche and winks at it.
So this makes the Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway story my favorite. It was quirky, a tad ridiculous, but possible. It was also very sweet in that it exemplified understanding that NO ONE is perfect, along with the naivety the two share about their love (they've only been going out what, two weeks?) Hathaway was also surprisingly funny, and a good sport. Speaking of naive characters, I found myself enjoying the Taylors, mostly because of their willingness to clown in front of the camera, at their own expense. Swift is not a great actor, but I did laugh when she did her dance routine. A ditz is probably the easist person to imitate, (or "act as") but it was still very amusing nonetheless. At the very least, it was vengeance against all of those gross couples in high school that thought they were destined to be together "4-ever."
Now, please give me some crushing married-man reality, the same that you hammered down when I said I liked Leap Year. But this is a movie based on one particular holiday, (which is on a Sunday this year, haha), so what could you really expect?
He Said (Jeff Bayer)
You know what you're getting into? So, in other words when a romantic comedy works, I should be shocked? Films like Bridget Jones, When Harry Met Sally, Definitely Maybe and even A Lot Like Love don't fall into cliches.
You actually think Topher and Anne are believable? Let's recap ... She loves to brag about her sexual abilities. She takes phone sex (she's waiting for the person on the other end to orgasm, it's phone sex) calls at work, and while on dates. She's insanely good at accents, yet she's not pursuing a career in acting. With all of that, she's terribly worried about Topher finding out, instead of just confident in herself. Then, once he finds out, she's not willing to give him a chance to digest this, and she becomes her that he doesn't understand. Topher's roll is very believable, I have no problem with it. I just never found Anne funny, because she didn't try to hide the thing that is supposedly embarrassing. She didn't use a cell phone at work, instead she put her clients on the office phone. Couldn't she at least have sneaked off to some closet, take the call, and then been surprised when someone walked in on her? Don't tell me she was desperate for money, because she hung up on a client at the end. And if she has the power to choose when to take calls ... maybe not on Valentine's Day night when she's on a date.
How odd was the Jennifer Garner as a waitress thing? The Taylors weren't bad for comic relief. Swift proved herself hosting "Saturday Night Live."
With so many stories, they truly just force the subject out (except for Julia and Bradley, which is why that's the best part). They just race to explain where every side story is headed, and it makes the film flat.
Another odd thing, there's a movie called Hot Spell. It stars Shirley MacLaine. So, what does that mean? Hector Elizondo's character is married to MacLaine or the character she plays? It's a very odd use of real life that makes no sense.
At least you realize the blond kid can't act. Yet he's given the third biggest role in the film. Bad choice. I have no hate for this film overall, I just have no love.
It's like the film focused on the forced feeling of love that some people feel Valentine's Day is all about, instead of trying for the real deal.
He Said (Nick Allen)
You like the Cooper/Roberts twist because it doesn't rush, but I don't like it for that reason. It doesn't mean much to the rest of the movie, and the chemistry between the two is not that great. It was a bow on the whole picture, but the Cooper twist was the only real surprise. I saw Roberts' twist 45-minutes away. Even the George Lopez subplot meant something (about being with your best friend). The Cooper/Roberts deal was more about surprise than any actual meaning.
When it comes to performances though, I did like Ashton Kutcher in this movie. He wasn't overbearing with his boyish charms and giddiness, and was a positive base for which other stories, some more significant than others, could bounce off of. As viewers we should be glad that his life seemed to be the most central in the movie, and not the story of the stupid kid or the dumb horny teenagers or even George Lopez. But it's the points made that helped Valentine's Day become a positive experience. Perhaps you were looking for more backgrounds with the characters, but the movie is built on small episodes that added all together create messages about trust, companionship, real love, etc.
And for the record, the Garner waitress thing was funny. Almost as funny as that insert shot of Patrick Dempsey eating pizza alone in bed in a hotel room.
Considering the house that Elizondo and MacLaine lived in in the movie, I would say that WAS her as the actress. Did the Pretty Woman reference at the end irk you also?
In short, I did enjoy my experience with Valentine's Day, and I see it working as a light/entertaining time at the multiplex for all you couples out there in Loveland.
I haven't read your review yet, but I'd give this movie a 6/10.
He Said (Jeff Bayer)
I don't get it. You thought Garner pretending to be a waitress, so she could make up a terrible sounding meat was funny? Dempsey's wife believed her (based on the dialogue) and decided that dish didn't sound good. That's comedy? That's retribution for him being married? Let's just assume you were joking about that getting you to laugh along with Dempsey eating pizza.
I saw the Roberts' twist coming before you did. I win. But at least it was a twist. Watching Kutcher get his heart crushed and find a new love in one day ... yeah, there's not meaning in that except for the potential of entertaining an audience. Putting him with Garner at the end felt forced, and it was good to see their first kiss didn't work out. But that's where it should have ended. The cliches of never noticing your insanely attractive and loving friend, or not "finding the right moment" to tell your dear friend she's with a married man have been done to death.
The MacLaine thing ... It's not Estelle (MacLaine's character) in Hot Spell. It's the real-life MacLaine. That's a fact. So unless the real-life MacLaine changed her name to Estelle, and gave birth to Julia Robert's character, then it doesn't make sense. Estelle can be an actress, but Estelle didn't star in a movie called Hot Spell. Just use that footage and change the movie title.
The Pretty Woman thing during the outtakes at the end? I liked it. I'm a HUGE sucker for outtakes.
If they make a sequel (there's talk of calling in New Year's Eve with some characters coming back) I will see it in a heart beat. I've just have lowered expectations. That doesn't mean I won't like it any more or less, it just means this Valentine's Day falls into the 27 Dresses category. Not the Knotting Hill group.