Valentine’s Day eh? There’s no getting away from the hatred of it. Either you’re not in a relationship and you’re sick of being reminded of the fact, or you are and you’re sick of being reminded that you’re not the red-hot awesome lover you should be. It’s lose/lose. And no number of happy cuddly bears are going to change that.
Valentine’s Day, Actually
Nothing demonstrates this collective bitterness better than the natural reaction to Valentine’s Day – Garry Marshall‘s sugar-coated tale of romance and heartbreak. With not only plot, but entire characters stolen from the far superior Love, Actually, this film is a prime example of why this Hallmark Holiday should be done away with once and for all. Much like the day itself, the film is fluffy, commercial, big-budget and totally impersonal. Two hours isn’t long enough to fully develop more than 20 major protagonists and their storylines, and Garry Marshall’s film comes across as little more than a group of badly written V-day cards; shiny, rushed and with all the subtlety of an owl flying into a window.
Spot The Non-Celeb
Still, the cast seem to be having fun at least. And who can blame them? The entire film seems to be an ongoing competition entitled Which Famous Person Can Do Smiling The Best. Ready for the plot? OK, here we go.
As the sun rises on the city, florist Reed (Ashton Kutcher) proposes to career-driven girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba) and miraculously she accepts, to the surprise of his happily married right-hand man Alphonso (George Lopez) and teacher best friend Julia (Jennifer Garner). Elsewhere, Julia’s fifth grade student Edison (Bryce Robinson) plots a surprise, the tyke’s grandparents Estelle (Shirley MacLaine) and Edgar (Hector Elizondo) celebrate another year together, and TV sports reporter Kelvin (Jamie Foxx) woos agent Paula (Queen Latifah) and publicist Kara (Jessica Biel) for an exclusive on American football quarterback, Sean Jackson (Eric Dane). Meanwhile, in the skies above Los Angeles, US Army Captain Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts) shares her excitement about a surprise reunion with fellow passenger Holden (Bradley Cooper). Bored, confused and frightened yet? You should be. You’ve just spent £10 on this, and after it you’ve got to pay for dinner. Happy bloody Valentine’s day.
Good Luck Next Year
Some of the plot strands are hopelessly contrived and characters, such as Biel’s lonely workaholic, could have been cut entirely. However, with so many characters thrown at the dart board of our brains something has to hit a mark, and there are sat least some charming distractions such as Julia’s revenge for a betrayal, and the interplay between MacLaine and Elizondo, which comes to a head at an open-air film screening of the 1958 film Hot Spell. But to be honest, these moments total probably about 7 minutes of a film significantly longer than 7 minutes.
Let us help you out here, don’t go and see Valentine’s day, unless you want to a) Be poorer b) become angered by the world and c) suddenly feel that your relationship (if you have one) is horrendously underwhelming. If that was the effect you were going for anyway, then good luck to you. Suddenly, those bears we talked about earlier look a lot more appealing. Maybe next year we’ll just stick with them.