- on Saturday, 08 May 2010 10:21
- by Frank Wilkins
It must be hard to make a good movie with so many stars. Weaving the busy schedules of no fewer than 19 A-listers into anything that might resemble a polished plot is probably a logistical and creative nightmare. What else might explain why Valentine's Day is such a disjointed mess?
It's one of those films that follows the interwoven romantic foils and triumphs of a large group of people over the course of a single Valentine's Day in Los Angeles. It's supposed to end with many of the character threads crossing paths to reveal feel-good surprises that make us all warm and gushy inside. But so many of those clever intersections are telegraphed ahead of time, the effect is mostly lost. Not to mention the manic pacing that knocks the signal to noise ratio created by the distraction of the star-studded cast - even further out of whack.
At the epicenter of the romantic shenanigans is Siena Bouquet, a flower shop owned by Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher). The store acts as emotional ground zero, with almost every storyline either starting, ending or at one time or another, passing through the bustling shop. Reed begins this particular Valentine's day proposing to his career-centered girlfriend, Morley (Jessica Alba). She accepts, but it soon becomes obvious he belongs with Julia (Jennifer Garner), a schoolteacher who has fallen for a doctor (Patrick Dempsey) with a surprising secret.
There's a little kid (Bryce Robinson) with a crush on a school friend, a young teen (Emma Roberts) bent on losing her virginity to her boyfriend (Carter Jenkins), and Capt. Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts), an American soldier flying home from overseas seated next to an overly friendly seatmate (Bradley Cooper.) It's pointless to run through all the different relationships and scenarios, but suffice it to say, all characters and crisscrossing threads involve unknowingly interconnected Angelenos either embracing or avoiding the holiday.
The characters range in age from adolescent to septuagenarian, so it's easy for almost every viewer to find an emotional connection. But since only a couple of the threads are interesting, (one involves Shirley MacLain's and Hector Elizondo's characters at Hollywood Forever Cemetery), it often becomes a battle of patience waiting until a good one comes around again. It's this hit-or-miss success that deals the film its greatest blow. It takes mad skills to keep this many balls in the air at one time without losing control, and director Garry Marshall does an admirable job with what he's given. But it soon becomes crystal clear that writer Katherine Fugate isn't able to seamlessly connect all the disparate storylines. It feels like exactly what it is... a shallow vehicle shooting arrows in all directions, hoping to hit as many slow moving targets as possible.
The film relies on shopworn gender clichés and overused comedy sequences looking for fresh success. But we've seen it all before from the parent arriving home before expected, to the seemingly wholesome girlfriend with a "worldly" background. The film's sappy, lovestruck mid-section might be just what the love doctor ordered for relationship medicine, but it certainly isn't enough to make up for the film's predictable ending.
A better choice for movie night on Valentine's Day would be Marshall's charming Princess Diaries. Even his Pretty Woman might work for you... speaking of which, be sure to hang around for the closing credits of Valentine's Day. Amongst the outtakes you'll not want to miss the clever wink to the Marshall/Roberts classic.
Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download - May 18
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Official Link: http://www.valentinesdaymovie/dvd/index.html
With its retread plot and clichéd romantic trappings, we're still not quite sure how this movie made such a big splash at the box office earlier this year. We suppose the star-studded, ensemble cast (so heavily advertised as the draw in the trailers) did what it was supposed to... or more likely, a lot of movie-goers were hard up enough on the romantic holiday to part with a few bucks.
Regardless, for such a well-received blockbuster of a film, we expected Warner to bring out the big guns to give us an equally impressive blu-ray release. Instead we get a fairly flat digital transfer that, while not noticeable to a casual watcher, certainly isn't awe-inspiring. And there are only enough extras and supplements to make us happy... but not giddy. Marshall's commentary is actually one of the best we've heard in a while as he waxes poetic about shooting in the LA area, what drew him to the film and he even offers a bit of interesting insight on what it's like to work with such a large cast.
Commentary: Feature-length audio commentary track with Director Garry Marshall.
- The Stars Confess Their Valentine's Day Stories (1080p, 6:27)
- The Garry Factor (1080p, 5:03)
- Blooper reel (1080p, 5:47)
- 14 additional scenes that didn't make the final cut (with optional director's commentary)
- Stay Here Forever music video by Jewel (1080p, 3:10)
Sneak Peak: Sex and the City 2 (1080p, 2:49)
Is a Combo Disc that contains both a DVD version of the film as well as a digital copy Valentine's Day suitable for loading up on your favorite electronic device.
Number of Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy