Review: Valentine's Day


Valentine's Day

Being a single twentysomething gal sucks on Valentine's Day. Right? Because you spend the day wailing and whining, planning anti-Valentine's Day parties that no one RSVPs to, and scarfing down candy, since that candy is the closest thing to a soulmate you will find for the day. Or so the Garry Marshall-helmed Valentine's Day would have us believe, by having Jessica Biel's character do just this. Despite the ginormous cast, don't look for self-confident women in this film ... unless you count the all-too-brief appearances by Queen Latifah as a sports agent.

The main story -- what there is of it -- tends to focus on the plight of a confident, happy-go-lucky flowershop owner, Reed (Ashton Kutcher). Reed's best friend is an elementary-school teacher, Julia (played by a chipper-despite-all-odds Jennifer Garner). Both of them are dealing with their own relationship issues; it's Valentine's Day, after all -- at least that's what somebody seems to say every five minutes throughout the film. There are also various subplots: a football player (Eric Dane) making a big life decision, an army captain (Julia Roberts) flying home to see a loved one after 11 months overseas, a little boy trying to express his love for his valentine, an office temp/phone sex worker (Anne Hathaway) dealing with the possibility of a new relationship, an older couple (Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo) taking care of their grandson, and more!

Valentine's Day can't handle all of these stories equally and falters. Even though the plots are all supposed to be related somehow, it just doesn't seem to work, leaving the film with an uneven feeling. Then there's the trite-at-times dialogue, phony emotion, and a not-so-subtle teen abstinence message thrown in the mix. That Taylor Swift's lack of acting ability becomes more obvious with the more screen time she's given doesn't help things either.

It's not all bad: watching Jennifer Garner's character whale on a pinata to a song from the Monsoon Wedding (now there's a fantastic Valentine's Day film!) soundtrack and hearing Anne Hathaway use various accents to give "instructions" over the phone provide some nice moments of levity. There is an extremely touching scene near the end involving Julia Roberts' character and her loved one that could be the most honest moment of the film. Plus, Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show) has a cameo! And a movie with Kristen Schaal in it can't be too awful ... can it?

Added note: Although the trailer seems to prefer we not know this, there is a gay couple in Valentine's Day. Don't get too excited, because they only barely appear together in one scene. Another disappointment, as their sexuality is mainly just used as a plot device with minimal return.