Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: Valentine’s Day (movie)


Another Monday night, another 2+ hours of my life wasted on a crappy romantic comedy. While having promise for the first ten or so minutes, Valentine’s Day quickly looses all credibility as it becomes increasingly corny and insipid, all the way to its contrived, tired conclusion.

The film actually starts out pretty promising. In the first few minutes, the story centers around a florist named Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) who just proposed to his girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba) on Valentine’s Day morning. The performance of Kutcher – a nice break from the vapid “party boy” rolls that he usually is cast in – is generally pretty strong throughout the movie (what little of it you get to see, that is) and is one of the few bright spots for a movie that doesn’t have many.

Unfortunately, the movie heads downhill from there. First, you have the story of Bennett’s best friend and obvious shadow love interest, Julia Fitzpatrick (Jennifer Garner) that breaks the Bennett story because she’s dating some secretly married doctor (also played by a “who’s who” of Hollywood – look it up on IMDB if you want to know who), which is then broken by a story about some one night stand between Anne Hathaway and the squirrely looking guy from That 70’s Show (Topher Grace), which is then broken by a story about . . . well, you get the picture. Of course, following the cliché, all of these stories are interrelated at the end – well past the point where the audience has stopped caring about the movie. One of the main faults of this movie is that it never seems to come together cohesively. About the time that I became interested in one story line, it would suddenly cut away to a worse story line, only to cut away a few minutes later into an even stupider story line that I cared about even less.

To fill in the transition points between stupid story lines, the director managed to stuff nearly every lame rom-com cliché in existence into two hours of film. There was the “nice” secretary who was a phone sex operator on the side, the divorced doctor who wasn’t really divorced, the kid who wanted flowers delivered to his school to give to his teacher (I called that one 45 minutes in advance), the dramatic showdown between the wife/cheating doctor/mistress at a fancy restaurant, the old couple where the wife cheated on the husband twenty years ago or something and decided to tell him about it that day, etc. The only thing that the movie was missing was some gay guy coming out of the closet – oh wait; it had that one too, in the form of some Hollywood pretty boy (Eric Dane) and the lead guy from The Hangover (Bradley Cooper).

The acting also left a lot to be desired. As mentioned before, Kutcher did well in the lead role, and Anne Hathaway was okay (though seemingly very out of place) in the role as a good girl/bad girl secretary-phone sex operator. Most of the other performances seemed phoned in, with the exception of some truly atrocious ones – notably by Taylor Swift playing a one-dimensional bit part as a high school girl named Felicia. At one point, Felicia has to do several kicks and cheers to impress a television reporter visiting her school (don’t even ask how this is related to anything else in the story). Watching her do those kicks, I swear that I was watching the female version of Napoleon Dynamite. Same lankiness and jerky movements, same big red lips, same blank expression – although Swift is far less funny. How she became a Hollywood and pop music icon is a mystery that I’ll never fully understand.

In short, this movie isn’t worth either the dollar from Redbox it cost to rent it or the two hours of my time it took to watch it. Rent Paris I Love You instead.

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