Supersized Ensemble Cannot Save the Schizophrenia of “Valentine’s Day”

Featuring one of the most star-studded casts this year, Valentine’s Day premiered last Thursday and made a killing at the box office this past weekend. More or less, the film could most aptly be described as a lesser American version of Love, Actually mixed with cinematography and interconnecting storylines similar to last year’s V-Day date flick, He’s Just Not That Into You. Going by the numbers the film was a definite financial success, but – considering the multitude of talent in both its cast and crew – Valentine’s Day proved to be a big let down and somewhat of a schizophrenic mess.
The supersized ensemble includes a whole slew of actors: There are big names that director Gary Marshall had previously worked with and convinced to be in the film like Pretty Woman’s Julia Robertsand Princess Diaries’s Anne Hathaway, along with four Oscar winners (Kathy Bates, Jamie Foxx, Shirley MacLaine, and Roberts), two Jessicas (both Biel and Alba), That 70’s Show alumni Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher, a pair of Grey’s Anatomy doctors (Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane) and a couple of Taylors (Swift and Lautner) for good measure. Needless to say, Valentine’s Day was equipped with ample onscreen talent; unfortunately, the film was so overstuffed with big name actors that there wasn’t much time to focus on any of them. The movie also suffered from Katherine Fugate’s uninspired script, which didn’t help these actors much in their attempts to make use of what little onscreen time they had to develop their stories and characters.
Set in the sunny streets of Los Angeles, Valentine’s Day tells the story of several vaguely connected LA residents as they fall in and out of love. What seems to be the main story for all of the other relationships to weave around is that of blackberry-aholic Morley and a hopelessly romantic florist named Reed, played by Jessica Alba and a surprisingly endearing Ashton Kutcher. Elsewhere, the Taylors (Swift and Lautner) attract younger fans to the movie as a head-over heels high school couple completely “ignorant of reality”, Anne Hathaway is an undercover phone sex entertainer trying to pay off student loans while keeping it all a secret from her current beau Topher Grace, street reporter Jamie Foxx is just trying to make it through the torturous holiday along with fellow cynic Jessica Biel, whose good friend Jennifer Garner is in complete denial about her too good to be true valentine (Patrick Dempsey), and Emma Roberts is planning to make her first time as special as possible by planning it during her school lunch break.
Will Kutcher soon be thrown for a loop with his new fiancée? Will Grace let Hathaway’s job get in the way of true love? Will the younger Roberts and her boyfriend’s plans go awry? Will Foxx and Biel learn to feel the love and see the good in Valentine’s Day? In a script as predictable as this one, there’s hardly any doubt as to the inevitably feel-good endings each tale will result in.
On the way to that uplifting final message, however, the film does have some strong performances and surprising moments. Eric Dane does a solid job in his role as a pro football player as does Gary Marshall’s nicknamed “good luck charm” Hector Elizondo. In addition, both Roberts (who plays a returning Iraq captain) and her 14-hour flight companion Bradley Cooper deliver their storyline in an entertaining yet subtle manner. When they leave the airport and part ways, the conclusions to both of their stories are equally heartfelt and touching as well.
While for the most part Valentine’s Day is nothing much more than lots of mediocre romantic comedies for the price of one, it’s definitely entertaining to watch the impressive roster of some of Hollywood’s most picture perfect celebrities working together onscreen. That being said, moviegoers who are not interested in the movie’s big names should probably steer clear until the film comes out on DVD as there’s not much else in Valentine’s Day worth spending ten dollars on.





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