My crappy 'Valentine'

Courtesy of New Line
Buy this photo

By Jennifer Xu, Daily Arts Writer
Published February 14, 2010

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and all you’re left with is a mound of red chocolate wrappers and hopefully not a broken heart. If you simply can’t wait until next year for more sugar and love, there is a solution: You can revisit the magical Hallmark holiday by heading out to the theater to watch that new Garry Marshall film. You know, the one with the really original title and more celebrities than it knows what to do with. What a shame, then, that “Valentine’s Day” is the cinematic equivalent of food poisoning.

"Valentine's Day"


At Quality 16 and Showcase
New Line Cinema

A plot synopsis of “Valentine’s Day” resembles less of a story and more of a list. Essentially, there's a vast array of characters played by Ashton Kutcher (“What Happens in Vegas”), Jessica Alba (“Good Luck Chuck”), Jessica Biel (“The Illusionist”), Taylor Swift (yes, the singer, in her first and possibly last movie role), Taylor Lautner (“New Moon”), Jamie Foxx (“Ray”), Emma Roberts (“Hotel for Dogs”), Patrick Dempsey (TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”), Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”) and more, and they celebrate Valentine’s Day. In one way or another, each finds a way to semi-ruin the romantic holiday. We are made to believe that this is really tragic. But don’t be too worried, because — spoiler alert — they eventually all get back together.

Director Garry Marshall, who single-handedly homogenized the date movie with his hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold story “Pretty Woman” in 1990, jumps onto the star-flattery bandwagon with zeal, and not a minute too late. Last year, Ken Kwapis’s ensemble piece “He’s Just Not That Into You” featured nine A-list celebrities. To make up for lost time, “Valentine’s Day” has 19. And back again for “Pretty Woman” round two is Julia Roberts (“Duplicity”), who makes a cool $8,333 for each second she breathes into the camera, according to New York Magazine.

Not only do we get to look at these stars for a few minutes, but some of them say some really golden lines.

“Are you sick?” the concerned Hector Elizondo (“The Princess Diaries”) asks his distraught grandson, whose babysitter is coincidentally Roberts the younger, mother is Roberts the elder, grandmother is Shirley Maclaine (“Rumor Has It”), teacher is Jennifer Garner (“13 Going On 30”) and florist is Kutcher.

“Yes,” he replies. “I’m lovesick.”

Lovesick? No, this is just sick.

Save for the impossibly cheesy lines, ridiculously improbable details (Kutcher’s lovelorn character scores a free airline ticket to San Francisco after telling the baggage check guy his incredibly woeful story) and decidedly unfunny situations (a Hispanic woman angrily beats her husband with a sign), “Valentine’s Day” doesn’t have much else going for it. If a rom-com without the rom or the com really floats your boat, “Valentine’s Day” is the movie for you. Otherwise, skip the trip.

Armed with an arsenal of tabloid magazines and Perez Hilton, though, “Valentine’s Day” can be quite an enjoyable experience — if you don’t pay attention to the movie itself. It’s kind of fun imagining all the awkward sexual tension generated among the cast members offscreen. For instance, the two Taylors made tweenaged “Twilight” fans around the world cry with joy when it was announced that they were dating. (In an unrelated note, everyone cried again when the two announced their amicable parting after three months.) Topher Grace (TV’s “That 70's Show”) and Anne Hathaway (“The Princess Diaries”) used to be the hot item 10 years ago, which is actually really weird considering they’re acting as a couple in the film, too. And in a more complicated circle of pairings, Cooper’s current squeeze Renée Zellweger (“Bridget Jones’s Diary”) used to date Matthew Perry (TV’s “Friends”), who broke up with Julia Roberts a while back.

Welcome to Hollywood, where you break up with your girlfriend one day and the next you’re starring in a movie with her. And you get $50 million for doing it, too.