"Valentine’s Day" (2010)

Valentine’s Day (2010)
Directed by: Garry Marshall
Running time: 125 minutes approx.

Howdy internet! So I know what a lot of you are thinking: why the hell is Tom reviewing this obviously terrible movie when there is so much more awesome cinema out there to experience? Ok, well probably very few of you are thinking that but I’d like to think that a lot of you are. Anyway, the reason I am reviewing this film is because when choosing a film to watch with my girlfriend the other night, she suggested Valentine’s Day because she wanted to see me review a film she assumed I would absolutely loathe rather than think was average and meh (as I have been lately). I protested slightly, I tried to convince her to watch a hilariously trashy film called My Bloody Valentine (“It’s got Valentine’s Day in it!” I pleaded), but in the end I relented and decided to give her little experiment a shot. And I cannot believe I am about to say this but: I didn’t loathe Valentine’s Day.

That’s not to say its a good film, it’s definitely not a good film. It’s essentially a poster film: a film that’s not very good but caters to a specific demographic and covers its poster with lots of big names that are appealing to said demographic. The Expendables is an example of this, an awful action movie aimed at boys aged from 15 up that has a poster listing huge action actors like Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Bruce Willis. Valentine’s Day is almost The Expendables‘ direct opposite in the sense that it is marketed towards girls aged about 15 up, is a pretty awful romantic comedy and stars huge rom com actors such as Julia Roberts, Patrick Dempsey, Ashton Kutcher and Taylor Lautner. The thing about poster movies is that the presence of all these big name actors doesn’t make the movie any better, it just makes it look amazingly appealing on the poster. These films aren’t completely terrible, they may have one or two moments that are really good, but in essence they are terrible.

Valentine’s Day strings together a series of interconnecting vignettes all taking place in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day that are all tales of love, loneliness and heartbreak. They are all very different, about people from ages varying from a child to an old man, and each one results in them learning something about themselves and love. Now, if you’re brain has started saying to you: “Hang on, I’ve seen this film…” it’s because you have, but it’s name is Love Actually. The main difference, however, is that Valentine’s Day has almost none of Love Actually‘s British wit and uses a lot of American teen movie humour. You know the kind of humour I’m talking about, don’t lie. All this “I’m gonna try something ridiculously weird before I have my first sexual experience! I’m going to get-naked-while-playing-guitar/stick-my-dick-in-a-pie/wank-first-and-claim-my-semen-is-hair-gel. Oh no, someone walked in on me! Oh the embaressment!!!!!”

Majority of the little tales play out in that fashion, that fashion being very dumbed down. However, I’d say about a third of the vignettes were quite good, but since none of the vignettes happen all at once that one good third is spread out across the whole movie. It was the ones that didn’t have the physical room for ridiculous pie-dicking that were interesting and entertaining to watch. My personal favourite was the one starring Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts, who played a handsome man and a female army captain sitting next to each other on a long flight to LA. They have never met, but the stewardess assumes they’re a couple and keeps bringing them heart shaped candies etc. So they bond over a loathing of their past relationships and a similarity of loneliness. And that’s all they do, they talk, and it’s funny, cute and concludes with them leaving the plane and never seeing each other again. I thought that was fantastic, it was so theatrical to have just two actors stuck in a confined space where all they can do is talk and be interesting and not know anything about one another then what can be analysed from what they say. And what’s more,  it didn’t end with a cliched “they fall in love and get together, nawwwwww” but more a “after all they’ve been through in the past, they had an emotional/romantic connection with a stranger and felt better for it.” I know the latter is just as sappy, but it’s not what I expected so I applaud it. There was another I liked about an old couple, and the old man likes to brighten the spirits of his grandson by telling him how he and his wife have been in love for fifty years and its never wavered. The space is restricted by most of these conversations taking place in a car or at a table. But, his wife has not been entirely honest with him, having had an affair many years previously. It was this great tale of a chirpy old man with such a great life view having it shattered in an instant, and it was truly heartbreaking.

And here’s the great big “but” of the above paragraph: BUT the movie still managed to ruin those stories for me. The old man and woman have a huge reuniting in front of hundreds of people while she delivers a speech about why they should be together, and they kiss to mass applause. And Bradley Cooper turns out to be gay, hence why he didn’t pursue Julia Roberts. That frustrated the hell out of me! It ruined my favourite of the vignettes. I was much happier thinking that all they did was impact each other’s lives, but never become part of each other’s lives. It was sweet, and it’s hard to make a man think a moment like that is sweet!

So none of the vignettes are perfect, and most of them are horrible. Jennifer Garner and Patrick Dempsey almost had a good one involving her being the girlfriend of a man that didn’t tell her he was married, but it ended with her just scaring him and not ever revealing to the wife that he was a cheating bastard, so he just gets away with it! All the other stories were just a bit dull and cliched, but the prize for worst story ever goes to Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift as high school sweethearts. Lautner just acts like he’s got to prove he can act as someone who isn’t Jacob in Twlight and just ends up being the exact same handsome douche bag; and Swift is just so teeth grindingly painful as the dancer girl it isn’t funny. And what’s more, she has the over zealousness to be in a kissing scene in a film that’s playing one of her own songs as the romantic backing track! It’d be like John Williams putting on the Star Wars theme every time he has sex with his wife.

…That image will be tough to shake won’t it….

Anyway, basically this movie lacked the reality of Love Actually. A lot of the vignettes in Love Actually showed us ridiculous, yet plausible, romantic stories. Like the two people who met and fell in love while being naked body doubles on a film set; it was hilariously ridiculous, but I would believe that that sort of thing happens. Whilst Valentine’s Day simply went for the plausible situations and either added an element that ruined the beauty of the moment (Cooper suddenly being gay) or simply had a cliched or pie-dicking conclusion (guy gets naked with a guitar and is caught; old couple reunite to applause from the masses). All in all, an awful film with two rare but slighty chipped, gems. See you next time!

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