Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day

Starring: Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Hector Elizondo and Shirley Maclaine among many others

Director: Gary Marshall

Valentine's Day is like one of those dates where you sit through disinterestedly without much caring what comes out of it. And this is not what one expects from a luscious-looking ensemble film that brings together so many A-list actors. The rom-com is curiously low on ambition, and ends up being neither a comedy nor an emotionally engaging experience. It's not that the film is annoying or anything and in a charitable mood, one might even find it passable, but there's no denying that the script is vacant in originality and overall, very bland.

The day is Valentine's Day and the setting is Los Angeles. Reed (Ashton Kutcher), a florist, proposes to his girlfriend (Jessica Alba) but she isn't ready to make the big commitment. His platonic friend, Julia (Jennifer Garner), is traveling to meet her lover, Harrison (Patrick Dempsey), whom she doesn't know is already married. Then there's Jason (Topher Grace) who isn’t aware that the girl (Anne Hathaway) he's interested in moonlights as an adult phone entertainer even as she works as a receptionist for Paula (Queen Latifah). Estelle (Shirley Maclaine) confesses about an affair she had to her long-time husband Edgar (Hector Elizondo). Holden (Bradley Cooper) interacts with a soldier, Kate (Julia Roberts), during their six hour long plane journey. Then there are two different young couples, one a dim-witted set of lovers eager to exhibit their love to the world, while the other one attempting to lose their virginity. Kelvin (Jamie Foxx) is a sports TV reporter unwillingly covering Valentine's Day.

There are many such threads in the film, all of them chaotically overlapping. Even though there is no real originality in the idea of showing different set of lovers and their situations, it could have still worked out to be an interesting enough film, if only some life would have been breathed into the characters and their situations. Neither are there any great insights on love nor does the film induce anything more than a mild chuckle on a couple of occasions. For most part, the characters are just too lovelorn and mawkishly sentimental for you to be interested in their individual stories. Moreover, the screenplay is too overstuffed, unstructured and unfocused for one to be invested in the film. The last 30 minutes is especially tedious and wobbly.

There are only a couple of stories that hold your interest and this is completely thanks to some of the superb performances. The Anne Hathaway part is nice, so is the one with the senior couple. Hector Elizondo in a restrained performance is quite superb. Julia Roberts has a miniscule part and she seems to have done the film as favour for her Pretty Woman director.

This is not to say that the film is a disaster or anything. But it's a bit odd that director Gary Marshall should take such a large star-cast and make something so completely ordinary.

Stars: **

-Sandhya Iyer


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