Valentine's Day (2010)

Valentines day poster 10.jpg
Guess what day this was watched on?

Director: Garry Marshall
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Starring: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Héctor Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift

On Valentine's Day (duh!), numerous couples intertwine, as they navigate through the the pressures and expectations of the holiday as best they can. These include a florist (Ashton Kutcher) who proposes to his girlfriend (Jessica Alba), his friend (Jennifer Garner) who's dating a married man (Patrick Dempsey), a football player (Eric Dane) contemplating the end of his career, a receptionist (Anne Hathaway) who moonlights as a phone sex operator, while dating a mailroom clerk (Topher Grace), and a young couple (Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins) who are attempting to lose their virginity. Quite packed, right? What's even crazier is how that description alone hasn't even listed half the main cast.

There lies the films biggest fault. The assembled cast is too big, and as a result, there's too few moments spent with any of these characters, and far too many showing their tenuous connections with one another. Due to this, we're left with little reason to care for their problems, or how these bland characters develop (if at all), as we haven't spent enough time to form a decent connection with any of them.

What's remarkable is how so many talented individuals have been assembled, only for the majority to deliver performances that are so phoned in, and deliver dialogue in such a stilted manner (looking especially at you, Taylor Swift and Jessica Alba). But perhaps their effort is intentional, to mirror how the script puts little effort, churning out romantic clichés half-heartedly, and getting predictable in the most obvious of ways. There's even a run to the airport moment halfway through.

It's clear what Garry Marshall's aim was here, to deliver a film which celebrated all the love and goodwill the holiday can bring. Unfortunately, his attempts to get this across involves shoving onto the screen kissing couples (who look as though they're trying to suck each others souls), and a schmaltzy tone that leaves Richard Curtis looking restrained. There's nothing wrong with something being sweet, but the tonal attempts feel similar to eating 47 Galaxy bars in a row: sweet to the point of vomiting all over the floor.

It's not a complete failure. The separate storylines of Shirley MacLaine and Héctor Elizondo's marriage, and Emma Roberts' relationship with Carter Jenkins, manage to end things on a sweet note. There's also a nice scene where Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper partake in a bet involving a bag of pretzels. But with a cast like this, moments as effective as these should be more frequent, rather than the rarity they are.

Valentine's Day bears a likeness to a heart balloon exploding in your face, a stuffed bear singing and a romantic card filled with faeces. What Garry Marshall's attempted is a celebration of love, but instead delivers a celebration of seeing the end credits pop up. Don't expect this to be a holiday tradition like Halloween.