Directed by: Garry Marshall Cast: Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane, Shirley MacClaine, Hector Elizondo, Emma Roberts, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift, Carter Jenkins, Bryce Robinson, George Lopez Running Time: 2 hrs 2 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: February 12, 2010
PLOT: In Los Angeles, a huge cast of characters fall in and out of love over the course of Valentine's Day.
WHO'S IT FOR? Do you like your romantic comedies easy to digest? This is light, fluffy and easily forgotten.
EXPECTATIONS: I never go into a romantic comedy expecting to see something great like When Harry Met Sally, Love Actually or Definitely Maybe. But those films and others are always in the back of my mind. Garry Marshall is the director behind Valentine's Day as well as Georgia Rule and The Princess Diaries. Yes, he's also the man behind Pretty Woman, but that was 20 years ago.
Julia Roberts as Captain Kate Hazeltine & Bradley Cooper as Holden: These are easily the two most interesting and engaging characters in the film. They're also barely given any screen time. Either that, or it just felt like I was always waiting for the film to get back to them. Do you know why? There's slight mystery with these characters. Even though I guessed correctly early on, I still liked watching this story unfold on the plane. Score: 7
Jennifer Garner as Julia Fitzpatrick & Ashton Kutcher as Reed Bennett: Kutcher probably has the most screen time. He loves love and just asked his girlfriend (Alba) to marry him. Reed's best friend is Julia. Julia is finally chasing after love with the doctor played by Dempsey. This story has no juice. Reed tries to tell Julia the truth about her boyfriend, but can't do it. Julia won't believe her best friend. The guy who loves love gets his heart broken. Nothing about this feels natural or real. It's terribly rushed. Kutcher is good at showing joy. Garner is good at beating things with a baseball bat. That's all we get here. Score: 5
Anne Hathaway as Liz & Topher Grace as Jason: Remember the couple in Love Actually that had to act out the sex scenes? Well, here we are stuck with Liz as a phone sex operator. It's annoying and ridiculous. She answers the phone at her day job, and while on a date. The story exists to show you how to accept an entire person, not just the pieces you like. Unfortunately the characters created don't do it justice. Score: 3
Jamie Foxx as Kelvin Moore & Jessica Biel as Kara Monahan: Technically, Kathy Bates is in this film as well, for about three minutes, as Kelvin's boss. Kelvin is the second sports reporter at his station, given the task of covering Valentine's Day for the station. Kara is a PR agent for Sean Jackson (Dane), who could simply be described as Brett Farve (almost). Kelvin and Kara both hate Valentine's Day, though the film doesn't really have time to truly explain this, so we hear the same speech our real life friends give us about it being a corporate holiday. Score: 4
Taylor Lautner as Willy & Taylor Swift as Felicia: I have no clue why this couple is in the film. I guess to showcase young love. But there's a much more interesting story with Grace (Emma Roberts) and Alex (Jenkins). They play two teens ready to lose their virginity. Grace also has to keep track of Edison (Robinson). He's the little kid in love. Robinson seems like he is reading lines instead of being a little kid. Score: 4
Shirley MacLaine as Estelle & Hector Elizondo as Edgar: It's squeezed in that Estelle cheated on Edgar years ago, so now they must try to deal with that. More importantly, yes, Hot Spell is a real film starring MacLaine. Odd use of real life. Score: 4
TALKING: Roberts and Cooper have a fun little five-second game with the flight attendant. Perhaps the most shocking thing is that George Lopez get the most laughs of the film (unless you find Hathaway's Southern and Russian accents funny). Swift can play an idiot teenage girl, and at one point Lautner actually says, "I'm a little uncomfortable taking my shirt off in public." It's a funny line, I just don't think he's good at delivering it. The best line of the movie? "To some people love doesn't exist unless you acknowledge it in front of others." The entire film could have focused on the power and meaning behind that line. After all, is that the reason we send flowers? Jewelery? Get married? Score: 5
SIGHTS: There are plenty of flowers. Guys, if you plan on seeing this with your lady, you should definitely give her flowers beforehand. The sight gags are sad. They rely on dogs and little kids kissing. The only sight gag that worked for me was when Garner took a baseball bat to a heart pinata (her line that followed, "Now that's open heart surgery", all but erased that joy). Score: 5
SOUNDS: For some reason there is a radio DJ called Romeo Midnight lightly guiding us through the movie, even though the film is completely spoon-fed to us already. It's standard fare and two Swift songs, "Today Was A Fairytale" and "Jump Then Fall." Score: 5
BEST SCENE: If it's not obvious by now, simply hanging out with Roberts and Cooper on the plane is where I want to be with this film.
ENDING: Some people will definitely be surprised. Caring is something completely different. I was not emotionally attached to one single couple in this film. Stay for the credits as there are some amusing outtakes, especially Julia Roberts reliving a famous line from Pretty Woman.
QUESTIONS: Why rush and cram everything into one day? Why not one week? Also, there is only one storyline that is not force-fed. Everything else is rushed into explanation. Famous actors playing pointless characters is not a good enough reason to see a film, right?
REWATCHABILITY: My wife said this was the perfect airplane movie. She didn't even like it. So no, this isn't simply a guy not liking a romantic comedy.
It's been one day since I have seen Valentine's Day, and I can already feel it slipping away. It will be forgotten. It's impossible not to think of Love Actually when watching this film. After all, I think it was inspired by that film. If that's the case, they should have paid more attention. Love Actually has a little kid who can act, characters you care about, and endings that leave you with an emotional impact. Valentine's Day operates by the theory "more famous people, less story". With Marshall directing, he seems stuck in 70s sitcom land. Everything gets foreshadowed to death. Plus, can we officially decide that watching people read text messages in movies is something that needs to die a quick death?
Love Actually is sugar. Valentine's Day is corn syrup. Unfortunately, there are many people who can't tell the difference.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10