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Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

GARRY Marshall’s ode to Valentine’s Day would have you believe it’s an unashamedly feel-good rom-com that offers the ultimate date night experience for hopeless romantics.

Sadly, it’s quickly exposed as a cynical cash-in that totally squanders a star-studded cast and which is more likely to break the hearts of the hapless lovers who flock to it.

Set over the course of one drawn out February 14, the film follows a group of Los Angelinos as they attempt to navigate all that Cupid can throw at them – but there are so many it’s impossible to get too involved.

To the fore, however, is Ashton Kutcher’s newly engaged florist, his hapless best friend (Jennifer Garner) who is unknowingly dating Patrick Dempsey’s married man and an elderly couple (played by Marshall regular Hector Elizondo and Shirley Maclaine) who are preparing to renew their vows.

Orbiting around them, meanwhile, are the likes of Eric Dane’s injured sports star who is about to reveal a secret of his own, Julia Roberts’ soldier, who finds mid-flight company with Bradley Cooper’s charming businessman, and Anne Hathaway’s phone sex operator who is attempting to juggle her fetish-providing responsibilities with a new job and a fledgeling relationship (with Topher Grace).

And, as if that weren’t enough, there’s a supposedly cute primary kid desperate to declare his undying love to a mystery fellow school-goer, and a foursome of High School sweethearts who are contemplating losing their virginity some time over the course of the day.

Marshall’s film arrives with plenty of potential… not least because he previously directed the romantic classics Frankie & Johnny and – most notably – Pretty Woman.

But his ensuing film looks and feels like a below par Love Actually rip off that is irredeemably bad from beginning to end.

None of the characters feels the least bit real, every story strains credibility and Marshall’s desperate attempt to appeal to every single demographic (young, old, gay, Bollywood… even the military) feels like a cynical attempt to ramp up the opening box office.

That he does muster the occasional guilty smirk or plot surprise shouldn’t really come as a shock given the talent involved, but is more indicative of just how predictable and tedious most of the rest of the film is.

And in-jokes designed to reflect both the director’s own back catalogue and the previous work of some of its starry cast also feel smug and unnecessary.

For a film that’s supposed to celebrate the unselfish and even foolish nature of romance, it’s a cloyingly stupid and utterly vacuous offering that is more likely to inspire feelings of hate.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 125mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 12, 2010