Blu-Ray Review: Romantic Comedy Fans Deserve Better Than ‘Valentine’s Day’

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CHICAGO – Clearly conceived as something like an American version of “Love Actually,” Garry Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day” is an unqualified disaster, a film that’s only interesting in that it may hold the record for the most household names sucked into one horrible film. Blu-Ray Rating: 1.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 1.5/5.0

“Valentine’s Day” might have worked as a Robert Altman-esque ensemble piece about the pitfalls of modern love in 2010 Los Angeles or as a truly cheesy and ridiculous romantic comedy that virtually winks at you through its own candy coating. Sadly, the film is neither. Marshall neither goes for the romantic gusto nor the character-driven realism, ending with something in the boring middle: a film that’s not funny, romantic, nor realistic. I would compare it to a bad sitcom or made-for-cable movie but most of those are more tolerable.

With a narrative simplicity that makes the similar romantic ensemble “He’s Just Not That Into You” look like “Short Cuts” by comparison, “Valentine’s Day” tells several interlocking love stories all set on the Hallmark holiday. The “A story” belongs to the super-sweet Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher), a florist who proposes to shallow girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba) in one of the film’s opening scenes.

Valentine's Day was released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 18th, 2010
Valentine’s Day was released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 18th, 2010
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Morley says yes, much to the surprise of the people in Reed’s life ,including business partner Alphonso (George Lopez) and best friend Julia (Jennifer Garner). Julia happens to be having a fling with a married man name Harrison (Patrick Dempsey) and although best friend Reed knows the truth, he struggles to break the news.

Meanwhile, Jason (Topher Grace) has fallen in love with the stunning Liz (Anne Hathaway) but the knockout has a secret – she’s a horrible phone sex operator who apparently has to pick up calls from clients at all times including while she’s at her day job, walking on the sidewalk, or on dates with her new boyfriend. Writer Kathryn Fugate clearly isn’t going for realism with “Valentine’s Day” but the ridiculous way in which Liz’s job is handled hints at a script written by someone who has actually never had phone sex.

Valentine's Day was released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 18th, 2010
Valentine’s Day was released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 18th, 2010
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Liz works for Paula Thomas (Queen Latifah), the publicity rep for possibly-retiring quarterback Sean Jackson (Eric Dane), a sports star covered by reporter Kelvin Moore (Jamie Foxx), who clearly has chemistry with the holiday-hating Kara (Jessica Biel).

Meanwhile again, Holden (Bradley Cooper) and Kate (Julia Roberts) strike up a cordial flirtation on a long overseas flight; young love is embodied in Willy (Taylor Lautner) and Felicia (Taylor Swift); young lust is embodied in Grace (Emma Roberts) and Alex (Carter Jenkins), trying to plan the night they will lose their virginity together. Finally, Edgar (Hector Elizando) and Estelle (Shirley MacLaine) have secrets of love even at their age and serve as guardians to the precocious Edison (Bryce Robinson), a young man who wants to give someone special flowers on the most expensive holiday of the year.

The driving creative force behind “Valentine’s Day” appears to be that more is always better. Throw enough subplots and beautiful people at the audience that they won’t care that none of them are interesting, likable, or worth giving a damn about. The problem is that the “more approach” often leads to less character. Despite so many roles, it’s difficult to give a damn what happens to any of them, making the film’s two-hour-plus running time feel much longer.

To be fair, Kutcher and Garner make out unscathed as they have the most screen time to develop likable characters and actually have some decent chemistry. I wish the movie had left their friends behind and focused on them more, although the film could also certainly have used more Taylor Swift, a talented young star who steals the flick with just a few funny scenes.

Special features include:
o “The Stars Confess Their Valentine’s Day Stories”
o Commentary by Director Garry Marshall
o “The Garry Factor”
o Jewel “Stay Here Forever” Music Video
o Blooper Reel
o Deleted Scenes
o Exclusive “Sex and the City 2” Sneak Peek Trailer
o Digital Copy

“Valentine’s Day” Official Synopsis:

“The starriest cast you may ever see sparkles in a hilarious and heartwarming romcom from the director of Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries. Stories crisscross, collide and boomerang in this look at a day in the life of love. There’s a proposal. Flowers that didn’t get sent. A big fat secret that’s finally told. The “I’ll show up and surprise him” that ended up surprising her. Fights, kisses, wrong turns, right moves and more. Whether new to or through with love, you’ll fall in love with this 19-star, funny-side-up celebration of romance.”

Director: Garry Marshall
Writer: Katherine Fugate

‘Valentine’s Day’ is released by Warner Brothers and stars Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Carter Jenkins, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Bryce Robinson, and Taylor Swift. It was written by Katherine Fugate and directed by Garry Marshall. Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 5/18. It is rated PG-13. content director Brian Tallerico

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