Cupid Hits and Misses
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the new movie Valentine’s Day is the lengthy opening credits. As the movie alphabetically lists, one-by-one, the names of its stars, one cannot help but be impressed at the sheer volume of popular talent. It appears director Garry Marshall collected just about every attractive person in Hollywood and threw them together in a romantic comedy blender. Some, it turns out, have rather small roles in the film, whereas others may take up a little too much of the movie’s runtime.
As you might expect, the entire film takes place one Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles. Before it starts bouncing around from plotline to plotline, the movie first introduces us to a floral shop owner who has decided to propose to his girlfriend. She accepts, which comes as a surprise to many of the shop owner’s friends, and, well, you can probably guess where that is heading. There’s also a young couple who have been dating for only a couple of weeks, but the man in question is unaware that she moonlights as an adult phone entertainer. Yes, you can probably guess where that one is going as well.
Those two plotlines seem to be the most focused, as the movie also introduces us to a pair of high school couples, a journalist reluctantly seeking for the meaning of the holiday, a football star with a decision to make, a young boy in love with his teacher, and his grandparents who have been married for years and, supposedly, have no secrets.
With the exception of the football-star story, most of these plotlines end up exactly where you expect them to. They are fairly conventional romantic-comedy plots slightly disguised by having them mixed together with so many others. The only plotline that doesn’t really go where you would expect it to is the relationship between two people who meet on a 14-hour plane flight to L.A. The ending for both of the characters is somewhat of a surprise and I’ll admit that the woman’s ending had me feeling a little misty-eyed.
That was the best ending of a movie which has many, many endings. At one point toward the end of the film, the gentleman sitting behind me commented that “this movie is like Lord of the Rings.” I knew exactly what he meant as this movie, like Return of the King, seems to have about twenty different endings. One plotline, that of the florist, seems to end about three times itself.
Although the plotlines and most of the gags are all fairly formulaic and predictable, there is still a lot to like in Valentine’s Day. In addition to Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts as the couple who meet on the plane, Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner stand out as a couple appropriately described as “young love: full of hope and promise, ignorant of reality.” Anne Hathaway is a delight as always, while also showing a talent for risqué phone conversations. The meeting of Hector Elizondo and Topher Grace as they recover from relationship troubles is also a rather charming scene.
There are some cute moments and funny lines, but the lack of much originality and a dearth of characters to really root for just keep Valentine’s Day from becoming the American version of Love Actually. There’s a lot to like, but not enough to love.
Valentine’s Day is rated PG-13 for “some sexual material and brief partial nudity.” Some dirty talk and a naked teenager are the main things to worry about here, but it’s certainly not worth anything harsher than the PG-13 rating.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Valentine’s Day.