Movie review: Valentine’s Day


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** out of *****

With its all-star cast and enticing previews, Valentine’s Day was bound to give moviegoers high hopes. It resembles the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually and at first even appeared to be the American version of the English Christmas film (centered on a different holiday of course).

There is no doubt whether the makers of Valentine’s Day were going for a Love Actually-esque sentiment. However, while aspects of this plot mirror its predecessor almost exactly, this movie is quite a few candy conversation hearts short of being a truly great film.

The movie revolves around a handful of couples — a very large handful. There are Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Alba, Patrick Dempsey and Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway, Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts, and the greatly anticipated Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift. Oh, and George Lopez shows up too. Even the most commitment-phobic of movie goers will recognize a fair number of famous faces.

The film takes place over the course of one day. (That day being — you guessed it — Valentine’s Day.) These couples, along with a few others thrown into the bouquet, fall in and out of love, cheat, fight, make up, and deliver gooey lines. All in 117 minutes.

Overall, this movie only seemed to scratch the surface regarding plot lines and establishing an emotional investment with the audience. While it’s fun seeing a cast full of well-established celebrities, the movie brought back memories of an especially gaudy Valentine card: too much glitter, too much sugar, and not nearly enough substance.

The movie definitely had its laughs, but sometimes the question was whether it was intentional. The audience laughed when sports reporter Kelvin Moore, played by Jamie Foxx, answers the question “What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?” by replying “It gives me acid reflux.” The audience ooh-ed and aww-ed and “Oh, snap!”-ed like champs, making the movie that much easier to like. It was easy to feel, however, that a great portion of the film was spent making cheap attempts to appeal to people’s emotions.

Such attempts include Eric Dane (also known by America as McSteamy) running across the beach, barely breaking a sweat and shirtless. It includes Kutcher delivering monologues in airports that begin with “She’s like sunshine.” It includes panning-in close-ups of Garner’s face as she realizes who the real love of her life is. It includes montages of couples laughing on swings and dancing at night in grassy fields.

See? This movie will definitely tickle a few funny bones, even if its intention was to pull at some heartstrings.

One shout-out has to go to Swift, who plays a totally oblivious, love-sick teen on a high-school dance team. Swift’s character, Felicia, who is dating track star Willy, played by Lautner, is meant to be hilariously awkward. However, she is painfully awkward to watch, which stems from an inability to act rather than comedic timing. (GIRL, STICK TO SINGING YOUR COUNTRY MUSIC.)

Overall, this critic’s feelings about Valentine’s Day are best summarized by a reporter in the movie describing young love:

“Full of promise, full of hope, ignorant of reality.”

Go watch Love Actually instead.

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