Valentine’s Day is an assorted box of candy hearts with something-for-everyone situations that deliver a message as heartfelt as “Fax Me.” Commercialism is packaged with celebrity familiarity and holiday timeliness, distracting from otherwise weak, saccharine stories told countless times before.
Two veterans of “That 70′s Show,” two Taylors, two Jessicas, McDreamy, McSteamy, two Roberts, and plenty more Hollywood coupling, all for glorified cameos in hopes of luring real life pairs for this weekend’s Hallmark holiday. But this artificial, four-quadrant appeal forgets to actually entertain that broad audience or affect anything outside of potentially ruining what might be a pleasant evening out for some.
Borrowing heavily from the much better ensemble drama Love Actually, the banal retread includes a similar desperate last-minute airport dash, a cute kid with an improbable crush, a cheating husband, convenient coincidences, and a radio DJ promising all the greatest hits. In this case the latter is referring to cliched plot lines of rom-coms past.
Ashton Kutcher (of all people) dials down his douchiness as the center of this interlocking hodgepodge, playing a flower store owner (of course) and the last remaining sap who naively believes in fairy tale ideals of true love. He takes a knee and proposes to a bland Morley (Jessica Alba), who reluctantly accepts, while his best friend (Jennifer Garner) goes through the motions of her own relationship ordeal with Harrison (Patrick Dempsy), a “divorced” cardiologist.
A character who works with affairs of the heart is just the kind of overt wink you can expect from a blunt script that screams “we’re in a romantic comedy!” at every telegraphed turn. The predictability of those two interwoven threads is stunning, and would be the worst sections of the movie if it weren’t for all the others.
Anne Hathaway attempts unfunny accents as a phone sex operator out with fling Topher Grace. On an airplane, Bradley Cooper chats up Julia Roberts, an Army captain on leave. Jamie Foxx collects his paycheck as a reporter chasing sports stories and making eyes at publicist Jessica Biel, who hates the holiday. Meanwhile, Emma Roberts considers sharing her first time with boyfriend Carter Jenkins, which sets up the obligatory discussion about love, lust, and “magical” moments together.
Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift makes her acting debut doing a valley girl impression we all imitated in elementary school. She twirls her blond hair for her then real-life beau Taylor Lautner, whose only purpose is “look what I can do” jock moves. Together they fill a demographic quota for hand-holding teens that is balanced by the old “it’s complicated” marriage of Shirley McClaine and Hector Elizondo.
Valentine’s Day is some marketing executive’s scattershot idea of storytelling, firing formulaic concepts blindly like a lousy cupid. This movie couldn’t be further from the mark.
1 out of 5.