Oh Garry Marshall, you finally had a chance to make a romance film that defied all past efforts, one that was inspiring, unique and wasn’t afraid to skirt into some new territory. Instead you give audiences two hours of the driest, boring, and sometimes offensive material that proves Valentine’s Day is another day with another romantic comedy. A chance to be different ends up being a mess of an affair with no point and no heart.
It’s Valentines Day and the film looks at a slew of Los Angeles couples attempting to cope with the day itself, or spend time with their significant others and the troubles they bring. In the interest of space, the stories in a nutshell range from two friends who discover they have a love of each other, an Army Captain returning home for one night, and an elderly couple coming to grips with secrets from their past. In the end they’ll all learn something about what makes Valentine’s Day so special.
It would be easy to slam this as a trite, typical romance but there is something interesting about putting a romantic comedy on the day of Valentine’s Day. There is a storyline that will interest anyone and everyone. Hate the holiday, see Jessica Biel’s story about having a party filled with disgruntled women! Looking to have sex for the first time, you’ll love Emma Roberts’s story about teen virginity! Unfortunately the strongest and most interesting stories are usually the ones with the least amount of screen time (there are 21 characters to focus on), but they look at a lot of interesting topics when it comes to relationships. Hector Elizondo and Shirley McClaine give the most heartfelt performances of the movie as the married Edgar and Estelle; it shows a look at a marriage lasting more than most nowadays and shows the endurance of romance. Emma Roberts’s story is cute and actually thoughtful, trying to focus on sex without pandering to the prudes or the teens. The strongest is Julia Roberts as the Captain returning home to her little boy. It’s the most wasted plot, but the ending scene is just fantastic and while Roberts has no chance to flex her chops she exhibits more emotion in a 30 second scene than the entire film put together.
Unfortunately everything else is stupid and ridiculous! It’s odd how Marshall attempted to recycle every aspect of The Princess Diaries, including star Anne Hathaway, practically all the side characters from the first film and its sequel, and the ending music. Garry, you do know what movie you’re helming right? All the stories that are the focus on this movie are incredibly cheesy and saccharine with actors giving stock performances, the worst offenders being Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher as best friends. Some actors were just downright wasted including Queen Latifah, the aforementioned Roberts, Patrick Dempsey, Kathy Bates and Jessica Alba who combined have about 20 minutes in this movie (out of 120 minutes). Taylor Launter and Taylor Swift are the worst actors of all time, Swift more so for her idiotic delivery of her lines in a Valley Girl tone. The movie is also a bit insensitive all for the sake of humor, including several jokes about no one speaking English in LA and a shocking line of dialogue from Queen Latifah to a phone sex customer. The harshest thing is how much potential there is with some of the more unique stories that Marshall shies away from, probably so as not to offend the more conservative audiences. Roberts could have come away with the strongest bit of the movie but she’s only in the film for six minutes and after all the trouble she goes through you never see any payoff except a reunion with her son. Dempsey and Alba disappear after they’re used and all Garner and Kutcher do is tell the audience how good friends they are, yet we never see any examples. This is also apparent in the gay storyline involving Bradley Cooper and Eric Dane, a storyline that was gearing up to be a major focal point of the film. It’s implied at the end that Dane, a well-respected football player, has come out on television, yet we only hear Cooper’s character say he did. There’s no connection to the audience that makes them feel how hard it is for the characters, and we never see ANY sense of them being a couple AT ALL! Why say their a couple if you’re not going to do anything with them?
Garry Marshall, I’m surprised at you! You finally had a chance to think outside the box; instead you bring the box in smaller and produce one of the worst romantic comedies to come out in a while. Fans of romance would do better to stick to (500) Days of Summer and ignore this schlocky hunk of garbage!