Have you ever wondered what would happen if you took about four back-to-back episodes of Friends with two-dozen main characters and set their intersecting lives in the world of Crash with the frenzied timeline of 24?
Of course you haven’t. Regardless, the answer is Valentine’s Day, the newest movie from eternal sentimentalist Garry Marshall. He brought Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride into the world so it only makes sense for Julia Roberts to join in this celebrity ensemble piece. Richard Gere is nowhere to be seen, but the reunion also includes Hector Elizondo and Larry Miller (in a small but effective bit role). This once again takes place in Los Angeles, which makes sense since this superficial story could only exist in La-La Land.
What we are treated to are about 10 separate but still intersecting stories about couples and singles and how they respond to Valentine’s Day itself. One guy proposes while another woman takes a very long flight home to see her loved one. Some try to avoid it and others plan parties to celebrate their hatred of the day. As one young pair plan to have a special intimate moment, an older husband and wife face one of the greatest challenges to a marriage — an admission of infidelity.
Luckily this is a Marshall movie. Any tragic circumstance can be overcome within the span of mere hours. If your girlfriend dumps you in the morning you can spend the afternoon thinking about how much you really love your best friend of the opposite sex before fully committing to a relationship with that person in the evening. Really? Doesn’t everyone have days as productive as that?
Reality takes the backseat in a stretch limousine during this romantic hodgepodge that has so many famous faces it might as well be He’s Just Not That Into You 2: He’s Interested In You Now, but with more irony. Jamie Foxx plays a TV sportscaster named Kelvin Moore who is forced to tape a ‘man on the street’ segment about what Valentine’s Day means to different people. Moore complains to his boss about how demeaning it is do such fluff pieces. How true indeed!
The old school writing features a lot of easy setups followed by quick punchlines, making it seem all too much like an extended sitcom. It’s a substance-free story, existing only to tell people love is patient, kind, but sometimes blind and dumb. Most of the characters experience some of love’s foibles while other dunderheads carry on oblivious to the world around them —like the fool Taylor Swift plays, extraordinarily convincingly. For her, love is everything.
This obviously isn’t the kind of movie that is recommended for singles but they can still appreciate it. Jessica Biel’s character has been so jilted and become so jaded she throws an anti-Valentine’s Day dinner, complete with a heart-shaped piÄ‚Â±ata for whomever wants to swing a baseball bat at it.
This movie is filled with beautiful people (including current ‘it’ boy, Bradley Cooper), falling in and out of love so quickly it could make your head spin. If you’re a romantic at heart you’ll fall for it, possibly even shedding a tear or two during key scenes. If you do, you’re a sap like me, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything smart or well done about it. Except for Swift who committed fully to the role, the acting was pretty awful and the plot unbelievable. Still it makes for a good suggestion for an evening out when you’re with your special someone on Sunday.
Directed by: Garry Marshall
Starring: 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
Now playing at: Grandin Theatre, North Edmonton Cineplex, Westmount Centre Cinemas, and Scotiabank Theatre
Rated: PG Stars: 3.0