Look at that poster. It’s crammed with beautiful people. It makes you feel sad. Which isn’t an excellent start for a romantic comedy. I wish I could say it gets better from here, but I would be lying.I don’t have a problem with romantic films. Sure, it’s arguably the most clichéd (therefore easiest to produce) genre, but there are some that genuinely bring out emotion. The only things that Valentines Day extracted from me were eye rolls and a heightened hatred for the dreaded pink day.
Usually, I start the review with the plot. But you’ve got more chance of passing the MENSA exam than finding a narrative here. Instead, it follows a (very large) number of people as they go about their lives on Valentines Day, with some of the stories interlocking to try and make it more interesting. Some of the stories succeed, including characters that we can connect with and almost care about their relationships. But the majority are dull, lifeless shells masked with roses and rings. Which is a shame, because the makings of emotionally charged tales are there, but in all honesty I think the cast is a little too perfect to be taken seriously.
Ashton Kutcher. Jessica Alba. Taylor Lautner & Swift. Julia and Emma Roberts. Kathy Bates. The list goes on. It’s The Expendables of romantic comedies. These people are too beautiful to be real. At times I was wondering if they were CGI, and didn’t actually exist. But no; unfortunately they are real and look perfect.
Ironically though, the high profile cast was the main reason this was expected to do well (and it did; $52 million dollars on its opening weekend, with a sequel in the pipeline) and yet it is the one reason why it unsuccessful. There’s just too damn many of them.
How is anyone supposed to care about a character you see for about 15 minutes in a 2 (going on 24) hour movie? We are bombarded with new introductions, each one making us care less about the previous one. As I said before, some of these work; but the one who had the most impact was American Footballer Sean Jackson (Eric Dane). At 35 years old and recovering from a recent injury, he starts to wonder what he wants out of life. He regrets never having a family due to playing football for the majority of his life. He calls a press conference, and shocks the sports world with what he has to say.
This scene was the one that really caught my attention, filtering through the usual droll of flowers, hearts and dazzlingly white smiles. This was the closest to reality that the narrative gets, and a later plot twist involving this character literally caught everyone off guard. Well, except one person, who was so lost by the amount of characters, it didn’t register what had happened until I explained it to him.
The soundtrack is exactly what you’d expect: its… nice. Y’know, those nice girls who play the acoustic guitar nicely, or play a nice tune on the piano with lyrics so nice you want to go out and buy a box of kittens ’cause you feel so nice. Taylor Swift adds to her -ahem- Oscar worthy performance by kindly allowing two of her soon-to-be classic songs… of which the names escape me. But they are nice.
Over long, over cast and underwhelming, Valentines Day is a love story that, for the most part, lacks emotion. In the after film discussion, we came up with the idea of making a film based purely on the Sean Jackson character. This could definitely work, and if the sequel is a continuation of the first one, it really should pick up on him more. But if you’re looking for a romantic film to see in the next few weeks, skip this.
I mean, there’s nothing better than the love between a Princess and a Frog..