Directed by Garry Marshall
Starring Jessical Biel, Jessica Alba, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner
Rated PG-13, Now playing
When I saw the trailer for Valentine’s Day, I had an inkling that it would be an American version of Love Actually, featuring the February holiday.
The prestigious cast boasts everyone from Oscar-winning actresses to teenybopper idols. The breadth of cast is the film’s attempt to cater to a wide audience. Unfortunately, the director Garry Marshall (Pretty Women) ends up churning out a convoluted, unsatisfying tale.
The film follows the lives of ten people on the fateful Valentine’s Day. Any film that tries to weave that many plot lines runs the risk of becoming a patchwork quilt of first impressions. That’s what happened to Valentine’s Day, which tries to divide 125 minutes between ten stars. There are certain moments which begged to be elaborated on, and others that were completely pointless.
If you’ve seen the trailer, forget it: Valentine’s Day isn’t anything like its previews. At first glance, Valentine’s Day may appear to be a romantic comedy with the inevitable multiple pairings. While it does touch upon romance, Valentine’s Day actually presents multiple permutations of love. It challenges the extent of love’s power, the limits, and its various forms.
The fame of the cast overshadows their performances. Take, for instance, Taylor Squared, also known as the golden couple Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift — or rather, the ex-golden couple (Swift dumped Lautner promptly after filming wrapped). One is a teen werewolf heartthrob infamous for his structured abs and role in the hit phenomenon. The other is America’s sweetheart with wavy cornflower-colored hair and angelic features. Though it might seem that the two would be a potent combo, but their chemistry fizzles. They are eye-candy for the teen demographic; no use in complaining, for instance, that Swift’s acting is so vapid, she can’t even pull off a vapid blonde.
For a film about the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day is remarkable for its lack of, well, romance. Because of all the stars competing for face time, the film stints on character development. The screenwriters’ attempt to create connections between everyone results in the relationships seeming contrived and forced.
With the amount of talent and the number of big-name stars in the cast, one’s expectations are perhaps too high. Marshall should have edited Valentine’s Day down to three core stories. The transitions are abrupt and one has to do mental mapping to remember who was supposed to be with whom.
I can’t say that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have a vision. It wants to portray several distinct scenarios of love on Valentine’s Day. The screenplay has some clever lines, but the film is blinded by its ambition. The combination of too many elements, too many subplots and way too much star wattage created a hot sticky mess.