Guilty Pleasures | Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day - Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher play good friends in the romantic comedy

Okay, so Ashton Kutcher’s a very cute LA florist who proposes to his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day then whips off to work in his beaten-up pink truck in a haze of euphoria when she says a rather surprised Yes!

Actually, Aston wears a lot of pink in this movie too, which made me wonder if director Garry Marshall were making some existential statement about LA masculinity…

For about a nano-second.

Because as Valentine’s Day unwinds it very quickly becomes clear that V-Day is not a movie for existential statements or indeed subliminal messages of any kind.

Valentine’s Day - Patrick Dempsey & Jennifer Garner tcher play good friends in the romantic comedy

Once Ashton gets to work in his pink truck we meet Ashton’s best friend Jennifer Garner who’s having a love affair with heart surgeon (actually maybe there is a smidgen of symbolism there, but nothing too taxing) Patrick Dempsey (aka McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy).

Valentine’s Day - Bryce Robinson & Jennifer Garner

And then we meet one of schoolteacher Jenn’s ten-year-old pupils who has a crush on her.

And the love-sick little boy’s fiesty granny Shirley Maclaine who has kept a secret that may (but probably won’t) ruin her 60-something year marriage to granddad Hector Elizondo.

Valentine’s Day - Jamie Foxx plays reporter Kelvin Johnson, who resents beings asked to do fluffy stories about Valentine’s Day for his TV station

And Jamie Foxx the cynical sports reporter being forced to do a piece about V-Day by his savvy boss Kathy Bates.

Valentine’s Day - Ashton Kutcher & George Lopez

And Ashton’s business partner George Lopez whose pink truck is rear-ended by American football star Eric Dane (aka McSteamy from Grey’s Anatomy, are you keeping up here?).

And temp Anne Hathaway who’s falling for mailroom boy Topher Grace but keeps making steamy phonecalls to other men called Vladimir.

Valentine’s Day - Queen Latifah & Anne Hathaway

And her new boss, sassy agent Queen Latifah, whose client is, of course, Mr McSteamy Dane.

Valentine’s Day - Bradley Cooper & Julia Roberts

And then soldier Julia Roberts who’s on a 14-hour flight back to LA sitting next to nice, vaguely flirtatious businessman Bradley Cooper (who has a limo waiting for him at the airport but is still in economy, odd that!)… And so it goes on….

All very touchy-feely, all very romantic and all very cutely interconnected. And not remotely deep or meaningful or even all that believable. But then it’s not meant to be. If Valentine’s Day has a point it’s that it’s unashamedly non-deep and non-meaningful entertainment. This is popcorn escapism folks with a glossy layer of LA glamour and a scattershot approach to star casting that ensures that pretty much everyone’s idea of eye candy will be catered for.

Valentine’s Day - Jennifer Garner and Jessica Biel star in Garry  Marshall’s romantic comedy

So for all those cynics who say this movie is contrived, shallow, pointless, narcissistic etc, etc. I say, what on earth are you doing going to see a movie called Valentine’s Day, that has been released globally on 12th February, has a poster full of star names that bears a striking resemblance to the one for Love Actually and is directed by the same guy who made Pretty Woman?

Valentine’s Day is a movie that does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a Hollywood Hallmark card come to life. Actually it’s about 20 Hollywood Hallmark cards come to life. It’s sweet, uncomplicated, funny, studded with stars and, unlike Love Actually, only very occasionally cringe-worthy (has anyone ever met a ten-year-old boy who wanted to spend all his pocket money on flowers for his teacher?) plus there’s Shirley Maclaine in red satin and Eric ‘McSteamy’ Dane in faded denim showing off a very nice set of bronzed pecs. So if I was going on a Valentine’s date it would be exactly what I was looking for – and not least because you don’t have to pay it too much attention.

And to the wag who dubbed this film ‘Love Actually without the irony’ all I can say is… Where the heck was the irony in Love Actually? Because let’s not forget, this was the movie that had Hugh Grant as the British Prime Minister saying in voice-over narration in the first ten seconds “Love actually is all around” and almost made me puke.

On general release from 12th February. 


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