Directed by: Garry Marshall
Premise: The film follows several intertwined storylines of people trying to find love on Valentine’s Day.
What Works: Valentine’s Day is sufficiently funny and the humor of the film gives it a brisk enough pace so that it’s never dull. Some acting highlights of the film include Anne Hathaway as a temp who moonlights as a phone sex operator, Jessica Biel as a neurotic public relations officer, Ashton Kutcher as a florist, and Hector Elizondo as a married man raising his grandchildren. Hathaway does the most with her part, bringing a lot to a very underwritten role and Biel shows a capacity for comedy that she’s never shown before. Kutcher’s role is not particularly flashy but he gets the most screen time and is able to deliver a full character arc and Elizondo’s performance has some very bittersweet moments to it.
What Doesn’t: Valentine’s Day is a film whose ambitions are bigger than its means. More than anything, the film suffers from too many characters. The story jerks the audience around from one scenario to the next, introducing a set of characters and the nugget of a story, then jumping to another place and doing the same. Because of the fragmented nature of the narrative, there is no rising action in any of the plotlines, just crises with mostly unearned resolutions. There does not seem to be any purpose to juxtaposing these stories and instead of using them to show multiple aspects of contemporary romance, Valentine’s Day just repeats various love story clichés, presenting them in slightly different forms. As a result, the film is a mash up of every romantic comedy cliché and never gets to anything real.
Bottom Line: Valentine’s Day is a bit like a cinematic version of a box of holiday chocolates. Individual bites may taste good but there is nothing of substance here to fill up the viewer.
Episode: #276 (February 14, 2010)