“When you ask a girl to marry you, do you want her to have to consider it? Or do you want her to just know?”
The Scoop: 2010 PG-13, directed by Garry Marshall and starring Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner and Topher Grace
Tagline: A Love Story. More or Less.
Summary Capsule: Oh, less. Definitely less.
Drew’s rating: More like Boringtine’s Day, amirite fellas? That guy knows what I’m talking about!
Drew’s review: The timing was impeccable.
I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews, as I think my track record shows, but after a slew of positives I’d been looking for a wretched movie to really tear into without having to feel bad. Then my pregnant wife was put on two days of precautionary bedrest (don’t worry, everything’s fine), and one of those days happened to be her birthday. Not good. The writing was on the wall: I was going to have to watch a chick flick.
This may require turning in my man card, but I honestly don’t mind most romantic ensemble movies. (May I have it back if I can correctly explain the infield fly rule?) Sure, they’re corny and saccharine and half of the actors inevitably phone it in, but as far as innocuous ways to kill a couple of hours, I’ll take one over torture porn any day. Love Actually, for instance — pretty good movie. Yes, it’s a bit cloying and sentimental and of course predictable as all hell, standard for any romantic ensemble film. But it has style and sporadic wit, and that excuses a lot. It ties a couple of the relationships together in unexpected ways (others not so much), the kid isn’t too annoying, and there’s nudity. Nice.
Valentine’s Day is the movie that really, really wants to be Love Actually when it grows up, and you don’t have the heart to tell it it’s going to marry young, work a job it hates for the next four decades, and spend its golden years complaining about its sciatica. It has most of the components of Love Actually (minus the nudity, an unforgivable omission in a film with so many hotties, and Anne Hathaway’s done topless before so don’t even TELL me she wouldn’t do it), including a cast comprised of every single person in Hollywood who was around that weekend. But for some reason the movie never seems able to bring it all together, perhaps because it lacks the wit and charm and ineffable Britishness of its big brother. Also it has George Lopez in a prominent role, and he is movie kryptonite that not even Bradley Cooper can counterbalance.
A full summary of the intertwining plotlines would take the rest of this review, so just hitting the main ones: flower shop owner Ashton Kutcher proposes to his girlfriend, who says yes but secretly has doubts, while his best friend Jennifer Garner has finally met a guy she’s really into (and vice versa, ifyouknowwhatImean), so of course he (Patrick Dempsey) is secretly married. And of course he goes into Ashton’s store to buy bouquets for both his wife and Garner, because when you’re having an affair, why wouldn’t you save time by using the same service for both women and risking a mix-up? (Sadly, my wife suspects this happens all too often in real life.) Meanwhile, Julia Roberts is an active soldier (just roll with it) flying home to meet her special someone while getting chatted up by Bradley Cooper on the plane. There’s also Topher Grace, whom I have more patience for than most, freaking out over what to do for girlfriend-of-two-weeks Anne Hathaway, who unbeknownst to him (but knownst to us) moonlights as a phone sex operator, complete with different accents for every client. Reeeally, dahlink, I vant you to tell me how you’re gonna butter mah biscuits, sugah, ‘cuz you’ve got to nip back home right after this for a cuppa, eh wot? Oddly, the two Taylors (Swift and Lautner), whom I know nothing about but harbor mild distaste toward for no real reason, end up creating the best comedy of the film by way of the newscaster interviewing them. You never can tell.
In the end, what dooms Valentine’s Day is a combination of things. Only a few of the leads have chemistry together, which is problematic for obvious reasons. There are a few funny lines, but far too many fall flat. “Believability” is not a trait you expect from this kind of movie anyway, but it strains the breaking point when a teenage girl nonchalantly tells the grandparents of the child she nannies that she was planning to lose her virginity to her boyfriend at lunch. (Real world reaction: “Why, I’m very sorry, dear, but you are fired and will never interact with our grandson again. Go wear your whore makeup elsewhere, whore.”) You have to give it up for some of the bit players — Larry Miller, the father from 10 Things I Hate About You, is particularly funny in an all-too-brief cameo — but you’re left wanting more from the smaller parts and far less from the leads. And if all that’s not bad enough, only one of the umpteen relationships is anything other than completely obvious until right before it happens. Seriously, if you don’t know who Julia Roberts is flying home to see by the end of her second segment, you have never seen this kind of movie before.
So, yeah… to restate the obvious, Valentine’s Day is not recommended for your viewing pleasure. If you’re a hopeless rom-com junkie and you’ve already exhausted all of the good ones, well, it’s not technically the worst ever. But man, there are waaay better ones out there. And if you’re a guy looking to impress your lady, reach for Love Actually or When Harry Met Sally instead. I promise, Valentine’s Day will not help you get to second base… and if it does, she’s probably not someone you should be doing that with anyway.
- Reed is wrong, by the way — “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night” is not a stripper song. “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” now that’s a stripper song. Possibly “(You Give Me) Fever” as well.
- When Shirley MacLaine’s character kisses her husband in front of a movie screen, it’s playing a scene of a young Shirley MacLaine from one of her old movies. It’s a little unclear whether they’re implying that her character is actually the actress from that movie, or if, when her husband compares her to the woman on screen, it’s a meta-wink to the audience. I may be giving this film entirely too much credit.
- Julia Roberts’ character is Captain Hazeltine, a combination of “Valentine” and the name of her real-life daughter Hazel.
- Speaking of Julia Roberts, she was reportedly paid about $3 million for this film. Her character says exactly 261 words, which breaks down to about $12,000 per word. Not bad if you can get it.
- Sorry, that teenager is entirely too nonchalant about going home after her mother walked in on her naked boyfriend in pre-coitus preparations. She might as well be talking about not wanting to go home after getting a B- on her report card. If that had happened to me as a teenager (impossible, nobody wanted to sleep with me back then), I would have gone home at 1:00 AM after everyone was asleep, left the next morning at 4:30 AM, and repeated this process for a month. At least.
Reed: When I was a kid, most of the advice that my dad gave me was crap. But there’s one thing that he said that was pure genius… he said, if you’re ever with a girl that’s too good for you, marry her.
Liz: Thank you so much for last night, I had a blast, and there is fresh coffee for you in the kitchen.
Jason: I think I’m out of coffee.
Liz: Yeah, you were, but I borrowed some from your neighbor. By the way, she was very surprised that you had female company, I think she thought you were gay. Don’t worry, I set her straight.
Reed: What’s the greatest love song of all time?
Alphonso: “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night” by Kiss.
Reed: That’s a stripper song.
Franklin: Valentine’s Day was a massacre in Chicago where lots of people were killed and they put a curse on the Chicago Cubs.
Reed: Did you even consider marrying me?
Morley: Of course I did… but when you ask a girl to marry you, do you want her to have to consider it? Or do you want her to just know?
Anchor: There you have it, folks: young love. Full of promise, full of hope, ignorant of reality.
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
- Love Actually
- Can’t Hardly Wait
- St. Elmo’s Fire