Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Review: "Valentine's Day"
"Valentine's Day" is more a marketing push than a movie. I have no doubt its genesis occurred in a cynical producer's office with dreams of opening weekend box office tallies -- not the den of a writer with a burning story to tell.
It's a manufactured film about a made-up holiday.
The movie boasts a huge roster of stars in one of those ensemble-casts-with-intersecting-storylines dealies. The boyfriend who proposes to his girlfriend is best friends with the woman who's a teacher with a boy in her class who buys roses from the first guy's flower shop, and so on.
Every time a new character arrives, we wonder where they will fit into this ever-expanding puzzle.
It's like "Crash," but everyone's moony.
I guess it's nice seeing so many cute young couples (and one older one, but still pretty cute) making big declarations of love and encountering romantic surprises. Some of the couplings are more interesting than others, and some of the characters you wish would go away.
The Meet Cute between Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts is one of the better ones. They're on a long plane flight, she falls asleep on his shoulder and they get to talking. She's an Army captain making a 28-hour round trip so she can spend a single day with someone special. He plays it coy but is impressed by her dedication.
Anne Hathaway and Topher Grace are a couple who've only been dating a couple of weeks when they have to face the daunting holiday that commands romance. She's got a rather kinky side job that might just send him for a loop.
"I'm from Muncie, Indiana," he explains. "The wildest thing I ever did was ... leave Muncie, Indiana."
Less intriguing is the sports newscaster (Jamie Foxx) forced to do man-on-the-street pap for Valentine's Day, when he wants to pursue the story of the NFL quarterback who has something big to announce. The quarterback's agent (Queen Latifah) is the boss of Hathaway's character, while his publicist (Jessica Biel) holds an anti-Valentine's Day party every year.
The movie starts with flower guy (Ashton Kutcher, who apparently actually has a career beyond Tweeting). He proposes to his sweetie (Jessica Alba), and he wants to tell the whole world about their engagement, while she advises keeping it quiet, which sorta hints where things are heading.
And so on. New love is found, old love is shaken, what was thought to be true love is shown to be not.
"Valentine's Day" is directed by feel-good king Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman," "The Runaway Bride") from a screenplay by Katherine Fugate. It's smarmy but not cynical. What it mostly is is unnecessary -- sort of like a holiday reminding people to be nice to the one they love.