Valentine’s Day | Gary Marshall, 2010
In 2003 I, as well as many others, saw a movie called Love Actually. This movie followed a group of English individuals as they dealt with many versions of love as Christmas came around. That year I was thirteen years old and I did not know much about movies (I still don’t but I do know a bit more), but even then I realized how refreshing it was and knew that there was a lot of talent up on the screen. In 2009, six years later I watched it again after having been put through a lot of awful Hollywood romantic comedies, and it felt even more refreshing, and that guaranteed it a spot in my top 20 of the decade. Now, in 2010, a similarly themed movie was released called Valentine’s Day with a pretty impressive cast and a director who knows how to handle romance. It had the potential to be the Love Actually of this decade, yet it only managed to prove that only the Brits could do it right.
Valentines Day is made up of a series of stories that take place in Los Angeles during February 14. The movie is somewhat weaved together by a florist named Reed (Ashton Kutcher) who goes all around the city delivering flowers. In the first scene he proposes to his girlfriend, she says yes, so he’s happy. Then there is the story of a woman (Jennifer Garner) who is sleeping with this guy, but ZOMG! He’s Married! Then there is a guy who slept with a woman with a secret that makes her have to answer her phone every time. There is also a football player with love issues, a hot and young publicist (Jessica Biel, who else could it be?) who for whatever reason can’t find a date, a reporter (Jamie Foxx) who hates the day, Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner, Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper sitting on a plane, an old couple, and, of course, a boy with a crush.
The biggest reason why Love Actually is such a great movie is because it had a lot of characters, even some that only are on screen for a couple of minutes, yet they are fully developed and we care about them. Also, the performances helped. Here the opposite is the case. VD was made to be a showcase of stars. The script took a back seat the cast. There are too many plots going on and they are horribly written and filled with clichés and the characters are not likeable. All I could think about was stuff like “oh look, there’s George Lopez, I bet he’s going to joke about immigrants” or “I bet there is going to be a scene at the airport.” Now, I wouldn’t have minded the clichés if the movie had been a parody of the Hollywood romantic comedy, yet it takes its self too seriously. Also, there is almost no emotion in the entire thing. The only moment that felt completely genuine was the conclusion to the Julia Roberts story.
As for the performances, they vary from adequate to pure crap. The cast has a lot of talented people (Shirley Maclaine, Hector Elizondo, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Kathy Bates, Jamie Foxx, Emma Roberts, Queen Latifah), yet they are phoning it in. It’s a shame that a cast this talented could not be in a better movie where they could have given better performances. As for the awful, there are two that fit that category: Jessica Biel and America’s latest sweeheart, Taylor Swift. Biel is not a good actress, and she has to play the worst type of character that has ever been written in the history of cinema, and her line delivery, comedic timing, etc, are god-awful . Swift doesn’t have a lot of screen time, and she is playing a stereotypical dumb blonde, but by golly, here she is worse than her singing voice. She should just stick to writing songs.
I only watched VD because I wanted to have the right to say that Love Actually is better. Now I will say it: Love Actually is much better than VD.