Sunday, February 21, 2010

VALENTINE'S DAY - not entirely unwatchable

VALENTINE’S DAY is a romantic comedy along the lines of LOVE ACTUALLY – in which we follow a number of characters, all loosely connected, living in contemporary LA on Valentine’s Day. We have everything from a teenager trying to lose her virginity (Emma Roberts); to a serving officer home on leave (Julia Roberts); from a cynical “player” sports journalist (Jamie Foxx) to an old-romantic florist (Ashton Kutcher) and many many more besides.

It is easy to deride VALENTINE’S DAY. It is a movie that has been so carefully constructed in the Excel sheets of Hollywood producers that is feels about as real and alive as a frozen turkey twizzler. Every actor has been chosen for their essentially good looks and winning smile. Every character is broadly delineated as being wholesome and good and thus deserving of True Love or as being superficial and duplicitous and therefore only worthy of being Alone. It’s the sort of movie that pats itself on the back for being so liberal as to have a gay character but doesn’t have the balls to show him making out. There is no plot development that cannot be predicted well in advance and no satire that hasn’t had its rough edges smoothed down. It’s a movie so shiny and brightly coloured in makes LOVE ACTUALLY - with its depiction of at least two “good characters” who end up unloved at the end of it – seem spiky and socially aware.

Nonetheless, I can’t deny that I had a passably good time watching the film, in the same way that a can of coke is predictable, tasty at the time, but offers no nutritional value. In a rising tide of blandness, Queen Latifah delivers one truly superb line, Taylor Swift was surprisingly willing to play dumb, and Anne Hathaway is always good at pulling off vulnerability. As for the rest of the cast, there’s nothing to write home about. The only thing that really pissed me off was the gaff in the writing that had Bradley Cooper’s character flying coach on a fourteen hour flight when he’s rich enough to have a chauffeur-driven limousine. Please. That guy would’ve been safely ensconsed in his personal sleeper seat in Business rather than propping up Julia Robert’s dozing head.

VALENTINE'S DAY is on global release.

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