A light and fluffy “Valentine’s Day” candy
Who ISN’T in the romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day”? That would seem like a shorter list compared to the scorecard-requiring lineup in Director Garry Marshall’s latest, which features a variety of Oscar winners, veterans, rookies, and B-listers and which relies heavily on the likeability of its cast. The screenplay-think “Love Actually” (Lite) shot in Los Angeles on a different holiday-is a series of little stories touching on every angle of love imaginable.
SoCal is a perfect setting for this kind of cheese since for the most part it eschews love’s deeper meaning, in much the same way the filmmakers cast the inland empire in its best light (no smog, traffic, or urban sprawl) instead focusing on scenic Venice canals, the still-stunning Disney Hall, and the sunny tone of its congenial climate and handsome natives.
Those involved include Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Queen Latifah, Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift. (Still think I was kidding about the scorecard?) And little 10-year-old, scene stealing, Bryce Robinson.
The film centers on Ashton Kutcher’s character, a third-generation florist who proposes to Jessica Alba’s character and who tries to warn his best friend (Jennifer Garner) who’s about to have her heart broken. Most of the characters, as you would expect, end up being connected to each other, but there are other twists and surprises that make up for the story’s general lack of originality.
The script (by Katherine Fugate) is based on the similarly ensemble-driven “He’s Just Not That Into You” scribed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein. (That movie, while flawed, was miles ahead of this one in the smarts department).
But considering how low the rom-com bar has been set so far this year with trifle like “When in Rome,” and “Leap Year,” “Valentine’s Day” feels like a step up. Call it a giant among wit-challenged midgets.
For many in the mood for a sweet truffle that goes down easy and briskly for a nearly two hour film, “Valentine’s Day” will likely fit the bill. No doubt the filmmaker’s intentions were to serve up a tasty sampler platter while understanding that the cinematic equivalent of candy hearts could never make for a fully satisfying main course.
Rated PG-13 for some sexual material and brief partial nudity.