Valentine’s Day may be a two-hour cliché but at the same time it’s fairly harmless and might please some people out there, but for me, I like my romantic-comedies to have, oh I don’t know, a little comedy thrown in there. I know… that’s a silly thing to expect. The DVD itself is also a disappointment with a merely passable video transfer, a decent audio track and only one special feature.
Genre(s): Romance, Comedy
New Line | PG13 – 125 min. – $28.98 | May 18, 2010
Directed by: Garry Marshall
Writer(s): Katherine Fugate and Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein (story), Katherine Fugate (screenplay)
Cast: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift
Theatrical Release Date: February 12, 2010
Features: Deleted Scenes
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
L.A., doesn’t measure up to much in both the story and performers; in fact it kind of reminded me of Ocean’s Twelve of all things as it’s a film where many famous actors are having a good time while the audience merely watches on in silence. Since I’m pretty bored at the moment, I will try to rehash the story and the many characters that dart in and out, so please excuse the multiple paragraphs…
Valentine’s Day opens up with an introduction of Reed (ASHTON KUTCHER), a floral shop owner making a surprise proposal to his girlfriend, Morley (JESSICA ALBA), who enthusiastically accepts. Reed then goes into work with buddy and co-worker Alphonos (GEORGE LOPEZ).
Meanwhile we also meet Julia (JENNIFER GARNER) a teacher and her boyfriend/doctor Harrison (PATRICK DEMPSEY in a taxing role). We discover then that Julia and Reed are in fact best friends.
In another storyline is Kelvin (JAMIE FOXX), a man who hates the holiday and fits his relationships to avoid it all together. Kelvin is a secondary sports reporter who is ordered by the station manager (KATHY BATES) to do some man on the street interviews about the holiday.
In a related story, there’s star quarterback Sean (ERIC DANE) who recently lost in the playoffs and whose career is on the decline. After an unflattering story, he calls PR rep Kara (JESSICA BIEL) to handle the situation while seeking advice on future prospects from his agent, Paula (QUEEN LATIFAH).
Of course, we also get a cute story of a little boy (BRYCE ROBINSON) – who is in Julia’s class – wanting to get a special valentine’s present to a girl he likes so he goes to Reed’s shop to get the present. The boy is the grandson of Edgar (HECTOR ELIZONDO) and Estelle (SHIRLEY MacCLAINE), a happily married couple.
In the high school realm are athletes Willy (TAYLOR LAUTNER) and Felicia (TAYLOR SWIFT) and her best friend, Grace (EMMA ROBERTS) who is planning on having sex for the first time with her boyfriend, Alex (CARTER JENKINS) before they head off for college.
Another sub-story involves Jason (TOPHER GRACE) and Liz (ANNE HATHAWAY) in a newish relationship. Jason works in the mailroom for the same company where Paula works and lo-and-behold, Liz is temping for Paula’s secretary who took the day off. Liz, however, has a little secret which we learn early on.
And last, in what is easily the weakest of the storylines in the plot we meet Holden (BRADLEY COOPER) and Kate (JULIA ROBERTS) on an airplane. Kate is heading home after a 11-month stint in the military overseas.
I believe I got everybody covered and as you might expect, each little story has some connection with the other (even outside of what I’ve pointed out). I guess they’re fun connections on some levels, but hardly anything clever and a few are far too predictable. Then you add in the built-in elements of the genre and as I’ve written before, I need characters to care about in order to overlook all the clichés and/or genre staples; and thanks to an absorbent amount of well known actors, I could hardly connect with any of them.
The only character that could remotely be called the “main” focus for the film would be Ashton Kutcher’s flower-man, Reed as he both opens and closes out the movie and is featured more throughout while others sometimes feel more like cameo roles than anything else (especially Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts’ section). But for his part, Kutcher does a decent job with a limited role so Valentine’s Day has that going for it, but that in itself says something about the film as a whole, doesn’t it?
The rest of the cast each basically gets an equal amount of time to display more one-note character traits like Jamie Foxx’s struggles about the holiday or Jessica Biel and her own issues with the day; a story involving four teens that seem to come from some poorly developed WB teen drama, etc. You get the idea. Other than Kutcher, Jennifer Garner seems to get come out better than the rest, especially the female cast: Jessica Alba only has a few lines and has some odd last scene walking down the street while Anne Hathaway gets to get dirty with her phone sex side job and Queen Latifah is a barrel of laughs as a powerful sports agent (yes, I’m being sarcastic). The only thing they, including Taylor Swift, have in common is they are great to look at, but that’s about it since we only get slivers of each character before it’s off to another storyline.
I realize that much like other ensembles, mainly New York, I Love You and Paris, I Love You (focusing on the different sections of their respective cities), Valentine’s Day is all about love and what it does to people of all persuasions and sexual orientations, but unfortunately this film, unlike the I Love You films and all their flaws, doesn’t have an interesting connective tissue to keep it together.
The film was directed by Garry Marshall who continues his interesting path after the surprise 1990 hit, Pretty Woman which was promptly followed by some real gems like the Dan Aykroyd/Rosie O’Donnell S&M comedy, Exit to Eden, Greg Kinnear’s Dear God and the forced Gere/Roberts reunion movie, Runaway Bride plus a few other forgettable films (Princess Diaries 1 & 2 and Georgia Rule). I don’t know if Marshall just got lucky with the magic the Pretty Woman stars displayed on the big screen or what, but Valentine’s Day only shows that he can get some well known actors together, but there’s not a whole lot of magic in it…
I know what Marshall, the producers and even the writers were going after and it was a valiant effort to gather the star power they did, but it hardly amounts to much. Given the film went on to make over $200 million worldwide, it’s only a certainty in this sequel/remake safe Hollywood world that a sequel, currently titled New Years Eve, is in development. I certainly hope it has something more to offer other than more clichés and cardboard characters we couldn’t care less about.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.0/5
Deleted Scenes (22:28) – There are 14 deleted scenes that you can either play with or without introductions by Garry Marshall (the runtime is with his intros). Given the movie was already 125-minutes long, and the fact it’s clichéd as it is, it’s obvious these needed to be taken out.
We also get a Sneak Peek Trailer (1:20) to Sex in the City 2. Just great
VIDEO – 2.5/5
Valentine’s Day comes to DVD with a 1.78 aspect ratio presentation (opened up from its 1.85 theatrical AR) and like many of Warner’s recent standard def releases, it’s littered with pixilation galore throughout. The detail levels for foreground objects or people is OK but anything in the background looks like a bunch of boxes that together might form an object. In any case, even outside of the pixilation problems, the other issue, and this exists on the Blu-ray as well, is how dark the film looks during certain scenes which only hurts the quality.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
Meanwhile, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn’t half bad with good dialogue levels and adds a good bass level for some of the music, though at the same time is also a tad uneven. It may not measure up to the Blu-ray release, but overall it’s a good track compared with other DVDs.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Valentine’s Day may be a two-hour cliché but at the same time it’s fairly harmless and might please some people out there, but for me, I like my romantic-comedies to have, oh I don’t know, a little comedy thrown in there. I know… that’s a silly thing to expect.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman