2010's, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, Bryce Robinson, Carter Jenkins, Emma Roberts, Eric Dane, Garry Marshall, George Lopez, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Julia Roberts, Kathy Bates, Patrick Dempsey, Queen Latifah, Romantic Comedy, Shirley MacLaine, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift, Topher Grace, Valentine's Day
- Jessica Alba as Morley Clarkson
- Kathy Bates as Susan Moralez
- Jessica Biel as Kara Monahan
- Bradley Cooper as Holden Wilson
- Eric Dane as Sean Jackson
- Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Harrison Copeland
- Hector Elizondo as Edgar Paddington
- Jamie Foxx as Kelvin Moore
- Jennifer Garner as Julia Fitzpatrick
- Topher Grace as Jason Morris
- Anne Hathaway as Liz Curran
- Carter Jenkins as Alex
- Ashton Kutcher as Reed Bennett
- Queen Latifah as Paula Thomas
- Taylor Lautner as Willy Harrington
- George Lopez as Alphonso Rodriguez
- Shirley MacLaine as Estelle Paddington
- Emma Roberts as Grace Smart
- Julia Roberts as Capt. Kate Hazeltine
- Bryce Robinson as Edison
- Taylor Swift as Felicia
I was saddened yesterday to read of Garry Marshall’s death. He was a prolific director, producer and writer, who had a long and interesting career. One area he really succeeded in was directing romantic comedies and that is why I am going to review the all-star Valentine’s Day. I was planning to review this film anyway, but I will dedicate it to Garry Marshall now due to his passing. Anyway, back to the review.
Over the course of Valentine’s Day, the love lives of many residents is explored. Varying from newfound attraction to older couples, blinded love and pining, love seems to be everywhere in this set of interlocking stories. Good-hearted florist Reed Bennett proposes to his pretty girlfriend Morley, who accepts. The day seems to be going amazing for him, yet he soon sees that Morley is having doubts about marriage. His friends Alphonso and schoolteacher Julia stay quiet but aren’t surprised when Morley calls it off as they saw that the couple wasn’t ideally suited. Julia is having a relationship with the dashing Dr. Harrison Copeland, yet he is stringing her along because he is already married which Julia is unaware of. Reed discovers this and wants to help Julia, making him acknowledge that he has harboured feelings for his good friend for a while. Then we have Julia’s other friend publicist Kara, who despises the romantic day due to an unlucky history in love. Yet this could be changed by the equally cynical sports reporter Kelvin Moore, who has been coerced into doing a special on the importance of the day. Older couple Estelle and Edgar Paddington have been married for a long time, but something from the past is bothering Estelle as they contemplate renewing their vows. Kate Hazeltine, an army captain shares a flight with affable Holden and the two become friendly as she tells him that she is returning for one day to see someone special. And there are many more stories that are too many to document because this review would become extremely long-winded otherwise.
Garry Marshall brings his expertise to this sweet and fluffy film. This kind of movie was his bread and butter and his considerable love for the genre is very much apparent. I can’t really fault his direction here as it is well done, though other parts of the film aren’t as assured as Marshall’s direction. Each of these stories links to the next one in some strange way or another, some turning out not like you’d expect. Like with any movie containing an ensemble cast and multiple tales, certain stories are going to rise above others in terms of enjoyment. The best way to describe Valentine’s Day is as a big box of ribbon wrapped chocolates that is full to the brim with sweetness and delight, yet you remember some of the flavours more than others. The Taylor Swift/Taylor Lautner story could have been cut as it contributes nothing whatsoever to the story and the little boy trying to impress his sweetheart feels a bit too similar to one of the links in Love Actually. Then we have a nice story with Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper talking on a flight back to Los Angeles that isn’t as clichéd as one would originally think. Anyone going into Valentine’s Day thinking it’s going to be something new will be mistaken because the formula of the film is familiar. Yet this isn’t to do the film down, it’s just how many romantic comedies have a story that is generic and been done before? It’s a genre that thrives on stories you’ve seen before and Valentine’s Day is no different in that respect. It’s a surprisingly sweet and funny experience actually and not as bad as many people have made the film out to be. I will admit I can be a sucker for romantic comedies sometimes so my opinion could be biased, but I enjoyed this film, even if the film is guilty of being over busy.
And following on about the film being busy, you have to say that the cast is one attractive bunch of stars. Be prepared readers, it may take some time talking about his massive cast. Ashton Kutcher is probably the person seen the most in Valentine’s Day and he has a real exuberance that shines through in an endearing way. A natural and sweet performance from Jennifer Garner is a nicely cast part, with plenty of humour and heart. Jessica Biel is particularly funny as a woman who holds a I hate Valentine’s Party, but secretly wants some romance in her life that has been elusive so far. Alongside Biel in the humour department there is an amusing Jamie Foxx. Old pros Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo bring warmth and experience to their roles as an older couple having to deal with feelings they weren’t sure of. Anne Hathaway and Topher Grace have good chemistry as a new couple with a hitch, she moonlights as a phone sex operator to pay off bills. Leading to much confusion, the two stars have fun and spark off each other well as they navigate the challenges of love.
Julia Roberts, who is already adept at romantic comedy, is luminous along with Bradley Cooper, in an amiable and funny vignette. Eric Dane and George Lopez fare pretty well with the material they are given. Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins make their tale funny and a little relatable as they play two students planning to have sex for the first time. Trouble is, it doesn’t go to plan leading to an amusing scene of Jenkins preparing to serenade his beloved wearing nothing but a guitar and being caught by her mother. Kathy Bates is unfortunately reduced to nothing but a cameo which is annoying considering how good Bates is as an actress. The same goes for Queen Latifah who is wasted and not given any opportunity to shine. On the negative side of casting we have Jessica Alba, who despite her beauty, is more than a little bland in her delivery. Young Bruce Robinson is endearing enough as the enamoured young boy wanting to impress a girl he has a crush on. The problem is the story is pretty much a non-starter that never comes to life. Patrick Dempsey plays a love rat with some smoothness that starts to vanish once he’s found out. Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner are pretty poor as a love struck young couple and their story feels like it could have been left on the cutting room floor.
It’s not the best romantic comedy but it’s far from the worst, and Valentine’s Day displays the flair and entertainment value that Garry Marshall had for this sort of thing that will be missed within the genre. Rest in Peace Garry Marshall, may your great spirit live on through your wonderful work.