Valentine’s Day

When’s the last time you saw 19 names on a movie poster?

You’ll be hard-pressed to think of a Hollywood star not featured in Valentine’s Day. The thing is, you’ll also be hard-pressed to get the ol’ adage ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ out of your head.

With each actor only getting about 15 minutes of screen time (tops), there’s no possible way to get any real sense of character, so instead they never evolve any further than very thin stereotypes: the horny teenager, the average joe, the cheating cad, the kindly grandparents, the latino sidekick, the lonely single woman who works too much. I could go on… and on… and on.

What’s really unfortunate is that there are actually some very funny moments, an occasional poignant moment, and (very) brief glimpses of the clever romantic comedy Valentine’s Day could have been… if you knocked out 75% of the cast.

Instead, though, you’re left with an almost dizzying mish-mash of wasted talent.

The plot is so convoluted you literally need a flowchart (or six) to keep track of it all: Ashton Kutcher proposes to his girlfriend Jessica Alba, and is also best friends with Jennifer Garner, who’s in love with Patrick Dempsey. Garner is also good friends with Jessica Biel, who (with Queen Latifah) represents sports star Eric Dane. Jamie Foxx is a sports reporter who would like to be reporting on Dane, but is instead saddled with man-on-the-street interviews with lovebirds like Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner. He also interviews Kutcher, who is a florist with customers that include Dempsey and also Bryce Robinson, whose babysitter Emma Roberts is anxious to lose her virginity, much to the dismay of Bryce’s grandparents Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo.

There… that’s the first half of the cast. And about a half-hour of the movie. It almost makes you start to pity director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride), but then you realize he must have known what he was getting himself into.

If that weren’t enough, much of the script is laced with drivel that even Hallmark would find too cheesy and clichéd. Do yourself a favor and just close your eyes until you hear (a) MacLaine/Elizondo or (b) Swift as Valley Girl Felicia. Those, along with Garner’s restaurant scene and Julia Roberts’ final scene, are worth slowing down the merry-go-round long enough to watch.

The rest of the time, just do your best to try and keep up.

…and pray that screenwriter Katherine Fugate watches Love Actually a few times before filming begins on the already-announced sequel to Valentine’s Day called New Year’s Eve. Seriously.

No, really… it’s a done deal.

1.5/5 stars