2013 FF: Figure this was an appropriate day to post this one, no? I love these ensemble comedies and all their consistently moving parts. This one is more worthy of a “guilty pleasure” tag, but I enjoy it every time I watch it. Here’s my look back:
“Valentine’s Day” works where so many romantic comedies in general fail because it doesn’t offer some idealized look at love, but shows the power of it — warts and all — from a variety of perspectives.
There’s the high school sweethearts (Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner), the new couple just weeks into their relationship (Anne Hathaway and Topher Grace) to a couple who’ve been together for decades (Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine) to the jaded, bitter single (Jessica Biel).
Katherine Fugate’s (“Army Wives”) script doesn’t disappoint with inspired pairings like Reed (Ashton Kutcher), a florist who revels in the uplifted spirits of everyone on his favorite holiday — even more so since his girlfriend, Morley (Jessica Alba, “The Love Guru”) accepted his proposal, much to the surprise of his business partner, Alphonso (George Lopez).
Others like sportscaster Kelvin (Jamie Foxx, “Law Abiding Citizen”) think the day is a made-up “holiday” forcing guys to spend money on their significant other while Kara (Biel, “Next”) throws a big anti-Valentine’s Day event to “celebrate” the occasion complete with heart piñata. Biel’s subplot is a stretch as we’re supposed to believe she would have trouble finding dates on any day let alone Valentine’s Day?
The Hathaway and Grace subplot is the one most negatively impacted by the film’s shared space format as their pairing would have made the more ideal standalone romantic comedy than the limited silly characters they’re given here.
My favorite arc is Jennifer Garner’s Julia, a schoolteacher seeking a deeper commitment from her boyfriend, Harrison (Patrick Dempsey), who is not ready to settle down.
Marshall never seems overwhelmed keeping up with the various subplots and has a good sense of when to move on to the next one.
It helps that the scenarios, while entertaining are never so outlandish as to be preposterously unrealistic. It’s a romantic comedy so you’ve gotta expect some ridiculous coincidences to work out so everyone can have a happy ending.
Just like true love, a good romantic comedy is hard to find, but “Valentine’s Day” is sure to be one of those romantic comedy classics that will become a tradition this time of year for many years to come.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10