Maybe I’m just a jaded horror girl, but when I think of holiday-themed movies that don’t involve Christmas, I think of unnecessary butchering (Halloween, April Fool’s Day, My Bloody Valentine). Although it’s technically a rom-com, I guess you could say Valentine’s Day follows that bloody formula. But instead of killing off over-sexed teens for no apparent reason, it unknowingly beats the once-charming romantic ensemble comedy formula to a pretty pulp.
Like Love, Actually or He’s Just Not That Into You on a blatant Hallmark high, Valentine’s Day features several interweaving love stories that are either blossoming or unraveling on love day in Los Angeles. There’s the sweet old lovers (Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine), the teenage love birds (Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins and the two Taylors – Swift and Lautner), the 20-somethings (Anne Hathaway and Topher Grace, Jessica Alba and Ashton Kutcher) and even the gay couple (I won’t even dare let you know who they are. I don’t want to ruin the movie’s sole surprise). Although all the relationships are technically different, they all end up communicating the same, overdone message: whether we’re young or old, gay or straight – we all need (or is it want?) love. Especially on the most sickeningly heart-filled day of the year.
This movie is essentially the cinematic equivalent of those hard, message-laden heart candies – nice to look, but destined to give you one hell of a post-sugar rush stomach ache. All the side stories are sweet enough (some are even aww-shucks worthy), but they barely get a chance to develop into something significant because the cast is too caught up with making nice with their equally famous friends to provide proper characterizations. I love me some Taylor Swift songs, but the country pop gal just came off as a overzealous starstruck fangirl interacting with the likes of Jennifer Garner and Twilight hunk Taylor Lautner (no wonder they sorta dated). She should stick to song writing. Her theme song (“Today is a Fairytale”) is one of the only highlights of this only-sorta charming slice of fake cheese.
Ironically, the best part of this star-studded love fest is the non-famous actors and their storylines. Like Edison (Bryce Robinson), a young boy who is in love with his teacher. Just thinking about the little guy scrambling for money to send his beloved instructor a dozen roses during recess is enough to make you want to believe in the rest of the lovey dovey stories.
Valentine’s Day is the most polarizing fake holiday to begin with, so putting it in movie form is sort of a recipe for mixed reactions. You would think rom-com expert Garry Marshall would find a way to appeal to more than just the hopeless romantic masses with some Pretty Woman-style humour. Unfortunately, he takes a more cutesy route, alienating those who care more about the com than the rom. In the words of an old pleather-boot wearing friend, big mistake. HUGE. C
EXTRAS: Sex and the City 2 sneak peek trailer, deleted scenes
Starring Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Patrick Dempsey and a whole lot of other sorta big names. Directed by Garry Marshall. 124 minutes. PG13