Movie Review: VALENTINE’S DAY

The marketing for Valentine’s Day makes the movie look like a shiny, pretty gift for those looking for a little romance come February 14. In reality, it’s like a box of candy that’s already been opened, with the contents all stale and hard to swallow.

Many storylines and characters collide to make up the narrative. There’s Reed (Ashton Kutcher), the boy who owns a flower shop that gets a huge boost in business on the titular day; his best friend Julia (Jennifer Garner), the impossibly perky grade school teacher who’s in love with a brilliant surgeon (Patrick Dempsey); Liz (Anne Hathaway), an office assistant who doubles as a phone sex operator; Captain Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts), a military officer flying home on leave who strikes up a friendship with a fellow passenger (Bradley Cooper), and a couple of silly teens in love (Taylors Swift and Lautner).

As you can see, almost all of Hollywood is crammed into this movie, and I didn’t even mention the plotlines involving Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx and several others. (Kathy Bates and Lautner might as well have been glorified extras, considering how little screen time and few lines they have.) It felt like director Garry Marshall was cooking spaghetti, throwing all these stars up on screen to see who sticks. Sadly, none of them do.

Some of these actors are favorites of mine, but most were directed to overact to the point of embarrassment. Biel’s character, Kara, has a ridiculous meltdown that made me feel sorry for the actress. Swift is goofy but in an over-the-top way, trying too hard to impress in her big-screen debut. No one behaves in any manner that seemed even remotely real (except for Roberts, who wisely underplays her role) and in the end, their stories are wrapped up with unnatural and implausible conclusions. If you’re looking for a romantic movie with lots of attractive stars and real heart, skip the cineplex and rent the superior Love Actually instead.

Nerd verdict: If not a massacre, Valentine’s Day is still a giant mess

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Gina
    February 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    LOL. Loved the review. I’d seen the previews to this, but it didn’t make my radar of movies to see. For some reason…when there are TOO many BIG name actors/actressess in a movie, it never turns out quite the same (to me, anyway). It’s like there are too many stars and not enough telescopes…or sky to shine in. Eh…but that’s just this book-lovers opinion. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend! (and of course…happy reading!) =0)

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

      Well said, Gina. These stars not only needed a bigger sky, but fewer dark clouds to block their shine. Or something like that.

      Happy weekend to you, too!

  • Reply
    EIREGO
    February 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    February 14th can be a real pain in the ass for people. It’s fraught a $20 mark up on a tiny box of chocolates normally costing $8, the near epic quest for flowers because you forgot to order them three months prior and people darting their vehicles in and out of traffic like maniacs to get a token of affection to their beloved on time. It’s a great day for people who sell ANYTHING with a heart on it. I kinda hate it, but I have a special someone in my life, so no matter how thin my wallet, I shell out cash for these meaningless trinkets as well. What I WON’T pay for are films like these that intentionally dupe the movie going public into thinking it might be worth seeing.

    Man, do they make them look shiny. Hollywood will keep making these pieces of fluff as long as the masses keep going to them.

    I wasn’t going to see this one anyway, but a big THANK YOU for letting me know that I can miss this one as well. It’s the best Valentine’s Day gift ever.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm

      Oh, why shell out money for meaningless trinkets? Hope you find something meaningful to do with your significant other this weekend.

  • Reply
    FFBUFF8
    February 12, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    I applaud Garry Marshall for gathering all that talent for a single film, but he seems to believe, as so many filmmakers do these days, that it’s okay to make movies with more style than substance.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      Hmm, are you perhaps talking about Michael Bay?

  • Reply
    Lydia
    February 12, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    You just confirmed I will stay at my mimosa brunch long after the other girls leave early to watch this movie on Sunday. I love your analogies – this many celebrities in a film is obviously over compensation for lack of plot. Hope your weekend is as fabulous as you!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 12, 2010 at 8:01 pm

      Speaking of fabulous, lingering over your mimosa brunch is definitely the way to go! And if my weekend is anything like me, it’ll be a lazy one.

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    February 12, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    … skip the cineplex and rent the superior Love, Actually instead.

    Even the trailers for this seemed like another step-child of a remake of that more worthier work. I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation, PCN. Thanks for the review.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 12, 2010 at 8:02 pm

      It’s more like an ugly stepsister.

      Are you still wreaking havoc in SF? Seen any cool gadgets?

      • Reply
        le0pard13
        February 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm

        It’s been quite a different Macworld this year. Strange to be on the expo floor and not see the big Apple exhibition and display, or new wares to check out. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    February 12, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Jennifer Garner even looks like an impossibly perky character just in that photo alone. Thanks so much for the heads-up, PCN ~ the ad didn’t inspire me either ~ but I’ll probably still pick it up on Dollar Tuesday when it makes it to DVD and I feel like parking my brain for a couple of hours.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm

      I’m a huge fan of hers (Sydney Bristow kicked ass!) but her character is poorly written. I won’t feel too bad if you only spend a dollar on it, though I went to a free screening and wanted someone to pay ME for wasting my time.

      • Reply
        Shell Sherree
        February 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm

        Ouch. I’ll make sure I catch up on my chores while I’m watching!

  • Reply
    Paulette
    February 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    “Garry Marshall was cooking spaghetti, throwing all these stars up on screen to see who sticks. Sadly, none of them do.”

    GREAT comment, PCN. I am so glad that I did not even plan on this movie as a renter….And, of course, I love Love, Actually.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 12, 2010 at 8:23 pm

      Thanks, Paulette! Other apropos food analogies: sloppy joe, ham & cheese, and sour milk.

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    February 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    I saw a preview for this one when we went to see UP IN THE AIR. It really didn’t do much for me in the preview. Anne Hathaway as a phone sex operator? That just doesn’t even work SAYING it. LOL

    I do have to admit that I have a bias when it comes to Valentine’s Day…I don’t like it. So that doesn’t help, but it seems kind of like HE’S NOT THAT IN TO YOU…or whatever that movie was called. Another underwelming film with lots of big names.

    I’ll go cue up my LOVE, ACTUALLY. 🙂

  • Reply
    Christine
    February 14, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Love, Actually is one of my favorite movies! I hadn’t even heard of this movie. Thanks for this review, PCN!

  • Reply
    Sue Ann Jaffarian
    February 16, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Love Actually is the poster child for a multi-plot romantic movie that gets it right. Valentine’s Day never looked appealing to me. Almost all reviews I’ve read on it are similar to yours.

  • Reply
    anonymous
    June 1, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I don’t think Marshall and the screenwriters were able to handle so many couples. It takes special skill to be able to pull off a movie that has more than 2 or 3 major couples. All the stories felt underdeveloped and I wasn’t really interested in any of them.

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