'Valentine's Day': Hearts turn to mush in overcrowded rom-com
The cast for Garry Marshall's "Valentine's Day" includes four Oscar winners, two Oscar nominees, McDreamy, McSteamy, two Jessicas, two Taylors, that "Hangover" guy and various other famous folk. With so many people, you'd think Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate could scare up an interesting plotline or two, but no such luck, says Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald.
Seattle Times movie critic
'Valentine's Day,' with Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift. Directed by Garry Marshall, from a screenplay by Katherine Fugate. 125 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some sexual material and brief partial nudity. Several theaters; see Page XX.
Roll call, please: The cast for Garry Marshall's "Valentine's Day" includes four Oscar winners, two Oscar nominees, McDreamy, McSteamy, two Jessicas, two Taylors, that "Hangover" guy and various other famous folk, including Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace (hey, where's he been?) and George Lopez. With so many people hanging around, you'd think Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate could scare up an interesting plotline or two, but no such luck.
It's Valentine's Day in Los Angeles, and our nearly two dozen main characters are in and out of various stages of love. A charming florist (Ashton Kutcher) has just proposed to his career-obsessed girlfriend (Jessica Alba); a sports reporter (Jamie Foxx) is ordered by his producer (Kathy Bates) to do some human-interest stories but wants to follow the saga of a possibly retiring football player (Eric Dane); a phone-sex operator (Anne Hathaway) tries to hide her career from her new flame (Topher Grace); a pair of grandparents (Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo) help their 10-year-old grandson cope with love; a grade-school teacher (Jennifer Garner) blissfully contemplates her new doctor boyfriend (Patrick Dempsey); an army captain (Julia Roberts) flies home for a quick Valentine's Day visit with an unnamed flame; and a pair of teenagers (Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift) grin at each other with their perfect teeth. Oh, and a lot of flowers get delivered. And I'm leaving out a few people, but you know, the day is only so long.
Essentially, it's an American turn on "Love Actually," except that it all takes place in one day and Hugh Grant never shows up and dances to a Pointer Sisters tune, more's the pity. And while a few of the stories are mildly engaging — the charmingly wry Grace, in particular, does a lot to make his particular subplot sing, and Swift displays an unexpected knack for perfectly timed teenspeak — the sheer volume of them means that nobody gets much screen time. (Blink and you'll miss Bates.) Subsequently, we don't get a chance to get attached to anybody, and, lacking emotional involvement, watch the movie placing lackadaisical bets on who'll be together at the end and who won't — which, except for one sweet, unexpected twist, is ridiculously easy to guess.
"Valentine's Day" mostly feels like a big pink-and-red marketing ploy, aimed at female audiences who want something cuddly for the holiday. It is shamelessly and unapologetically cute: toddlers kissing; 10-year-olds sighing about love; Garner beaming cherubically as she instructs her classroom about the history of Valentine's Day; and Kutcher in a pink baseball cap, charmingly overwhelmed by the holiday's floral abundance. It's all harmless but utterly inconsequential — and, worse, rarely genuinely funny or moving. Hang out in any local restaurant on Valentine's Day and you will, I suspect, see some better stories than these.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.