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Fred Tries to Enjoy Valentine's Day

Published February 11, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of New Line Cinema
Valentine's Day Valentine's Day
You put a crap load of stars and storylines in a movie and there’s bound to be a few that someone likes. Even Valentine’s Day has a few good ones. Most are the same old insincere fluff and it’s definitely no He’s Just Not That Into You.

Review: Valentine's Day

It’s all safe for one thing. A road rager says “friggin’” because it’s a PG movie. A post coital takes pictures of each other, because mainstream audiences wouldn’t like it if they addressed the stench and crust of the morning after. A phone sex worker manages to perform without using any obscenities, because it’s only supposed to be adorable all the voices she uses. It’s tame to a puritanical degree.

The couples are all so sweet, feeling like actors playing cute. Everyone’s in such a hurry because they’re all so relatable with their real world schedules. It’s so contrived with the easiest possible generic comedy idea. The phone sex worker takes calls at the office. There’s no construction there, it’s just the least possible effort that could pass for a comic set-up. Pratfalls include falling off a treadmill, because a high powered business woman couldn’t possibly know how to use her own exercise equipment.

Ashton Kutcher’s story really is the anchor to all the nonsense. He seems so sincere, you can buy the connective tissue. He’s a florist and hopeless romantic who interacts with all the stories, and he’s got his own too. You really believe that he believes in love. Everyone else is just playing at it. When Kutcher races to the airport to stop his best friend, you believe him.

I do buy the movie coincidence that gives the florist the knowledge that his best friend’s boyfriend is too timing. It’s just so evil to order flowers from your mistress’s buddy. The storyline even has a valuable point that you can’t save anyone from life lessons. They have to go through heartbreak.

Other storylines just aren’t trying hard enough. The film takes the easiest way out on all fronts. It coasts on star power, touching on common rom-com traditions without the magic or spontaneity. Actually, the storylines that get good don’t get there until the end of the movie, then it just stops. The athlete has the awesomest, most important story but once it’s revealed, it’s over. One of the teen storylines gains comic momentum, thanks to Taylors Lautner and Swift’s unapologetic physical talents and a bit player’s reaction. They promote teen responsibility and inter-racial romance too so at least it has good values.

Look, I know who this is for. I’m the (500) Days of Summer/About a Boy/The Notebook rom-com type, the ones with a bit of an edge and a quirk. Valentine’s Day is just supposed to make everyone feel safe and happy. If naked guitaring is funny to you, you’ll love Valentine’s Day. If you don’t require that the naked guitarist have motivation and behave consistently, then Valentine’s Day is for you.

Also, Jessica Biel plays a compulsive overeater. I can forgive that they have to hire a pretty actor to play the lonely single spinster hosting an I Hate Valentine’s Day party, but if you’re telling the public that you can binge on chocolate and look like that, that’s just irresponsible.

Follow more of Fred’s probing movie observations on Twitter @FredTopel.
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Sources: Image property of New Line Cinema

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