by MacKenzie Phillips
You would think that a successful director like Garry Marshall would deliver an award-winning film with little effort after major box office winners such as Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, and The Runaway Bride. However, his latest film, Valentine’s Day, does not follow his success train.
Instead, it is a traffic jam of way too many familiar faces. The ensemble includes a supersized cast with Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy winners. Jessica Biel, Julia Roberts, Queen Latifah, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, (PAUSE) Jessica Alba, Patrick Dempsey, Taylor Swift, Jamie Foxx, (PAUSE) Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Taylor Lautner are just SOME of the twenty plus familiar faces that occupy the set. It is a mouthful, to say the least… and it only gets worse.
Because the structure of Valentine’s Day is an actor gridlock with plot twists and disappointingly predictable endings, it is reminiscent of He’s Just Not That Into You or a cheap American remake of Love Actually. The structure is different than that of Love Actually, though, because we actually cared about what happened to Love Actually’s cast. Marshall is so desperate in keeping all of his characters alive that the film doesn’t even take time to really focus on any of them at all. Instead we have a merry-go-round of plot lines beginning on the morning of February 14th. To make things more hectic, all of their stories are completed by midnight.
Summarizing the plot would give me an intense migraine, but the basic storyline is comprised of eight major components. First, we have the best friends who don’t actually realize that they are in love and who instead twiddle away their time in untrusting relationships with other people. Secondly, there is the guy who believes that she loves him when really she doesn’t. Next, we have the girl who believes he loves her when really he is married. Fourth, an airplane conversation. The next is the teen whose plan to loose her virginity on this “special” day ultimately fails. Sixth, a wrong conclusion drawn from a misunderstood phone call. The seventh, an annual dinner party for sappy dateless women. And finally, and perhaps most pathetically, a fifth grader’s first real crush.
For those of you undemanding viewers that are looking for a mawkish romantic comedy with very few surprises, this is the film for you. Despite the movie’s dominant star power, the film still ends up a mess on the screen. To continue the cliche, it is like a bland pink candy heart with a sappy phrase printed on it: nothing special.
Marshall may wind up lucky with this movie because of its jam-packed cast list, but it definitely is not worth seeing for any other reason. The latest news is that Marshall is also planning on creating a New Year’s Eve movie as a sort of sequel set to Valentine’s Day. Could it really get any worse? I guess we will have to wait until New Years to see.