Capone says VALENTINE'S DAY sucked out his heart and trampled it bloody in the dirt!!!
Published at: Feb. 12, 2010, 7:08 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
Sometimes, I see a film that reminds me what my job really is. Yes, the primary function I (and many critics) have assigned myself is to steer you in the direction of great films, some you may have heard of and hopefully a few that you haven't. Discovery is one of the truest thrills I get, and passing on great discoveries is so much fun. But this is only half the job; the other half is protecting you. I'll step in front of a bullet or a knife or a Chinese throwing star or a warrior's spear; sure, things will get messy, but I'll get back up, wipe off the blood, throw a Band-Aid on my wounds, and prepare for the next assault. But tonight, I've seen a movie that may have actually killed a huge portion of my soul. In its lame and obvious attempts to teach me about the true meaning of love, it may have introduced a level of hate into my life that may change me to my core. I'm talking about the type of hate that makes you angry enough to kill baby ducks with a shotgun or smother infants in their sleep. Please, allow me to welcome you to the shameless world of VALENTINE'S DAY, directed by Garry Marshall, who hasn't made an even partially worthy film in 20 years (yes, PRETTY WOMAN came out in 1990).
There have been a lot of films lately about the end of civilization, but none of them hold a candle to the shallow, emotionally barren wasteland laid out before us in VALENTINE'S DAY, a film in which dozens of Los Angelinos find love, lose love, and find love again (in most cases) all of the span of about 18 hours. Every joke is told as if Marshall is holding a spotlight right on it just on the off chance you might not catch the humor, because Garry Marshall is, if nothing else, about as subtle as a sack of doorknobs being smashed across your skull. You can almost hear the director behind the camera uttering "Get it?" after each clever pun or earth-shattering PG-13 innuendo. Where's that baby duck, and what did I do with my 12 gauge?
Where to begin dissecting this nightmare...I think I'll start with the all-star cast, who are all doing their darndest to impersonate people with depth and souls. But that's near impossible to do with a script (from Katherine Fugate) that is essentially a collection of fortune-cookie philosophies on relationships strung together and connected in ways that don't actually amount to anything. I know that interwoven plot threads and interconnected characters are all the rage these days, but those connections have to mean something and have a purpose.
Without ruining the desperately clever twists and turns of VALENTINE'S DAY, there are two characters I want to focus on, because their time together could have actually amounted to something beyond a pair of ridiculous revelations in the film's final moments. Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper are strangers sitting next to each other on a plane. She's a soldier (still in camouflage) returning home for one day's leave from an unnamed war; he's wearing a nice suit and doesn't seem to mind when she falls asleep on his shoulder. Every so often, the film returns to them as they attempt to figure out what the other one has going on. He assumes that she is returning home on Valentine's Day to visit a special fella; she's got him pegged as a considerate but serious guy with no connections back home. It's not the greatest story ever told, but at least I was curious and mildly invested in what happens to these two. In the movie's parting music montage, we learn exactly who both of them are really going home to see. They aren't connected in any way, and the revelation is without any meaning beyond tying their pleasant, mediocre story thread into the rest of the shit that passes for forward motion in this movie.
Let me put this to you another way. Think for a minute about all of those terrible romantic comedies that come out every year (several of which were also directed by Garry Marshall); then imagine all of those miserable couples collected in one movie, each with their own slapstick humor moment, quirky best friend, overly scripted declaration of love (usually in a very public setting). Many of the actresses that have appeared in those craptastic films are represented here--Jessicas Alba and Biel, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Roberts, and I'll even throw in singer Taylor Swift (in her feature debut), who it seems is being bred to make these kinds of horrible movies. Hell, there are four Oscar winners and two nominees in the cast. It doesn't matter; they all suck in VALENTINE'S DAY. Consider this potentially awesome character description: Anne Hathaway as a phone sex operator. Ah, but it's PG-13 phone sex, so guess what? Even the prospect of Hathaway talking dirty is denied me. Oh the humanity.
And the men don't fare much better. Topher Grace, Taylor Lautner, Eric Dane, Jaime Foxx, Patrick Dempsey, and the list goes on. Is it weird that the best male performance in the movie is from Ashton Kutcher? Yes. Yes, it is. Here are some other names in the cast to chew on: Kathy Bates, Queen Latifah, Emma Roberts, Hector Elizondo, Shirley MacLaine, and the true stamp of quality, George Lopez. Fuck. Me. Seriously, if you pay money to see VALENTINE'S DAY, there might be a piece of your brain missing, the part that controls reason and logic. You might be a sociopath, and if you aren't, this movie will probably turn you into one. And if, after all of these warnings, you still go and like VALENTINE'S DAY, then I hate you. You are a person deserving of all the hate in the world, because you have blindly accepted that love stories in movies have to be spoon fed to you like so much uncomplicated gruel. Plus I heard this movie will give you cancer, so if you die soon after watching it, you have no one to blame but yourself. So there.
Follow Me On Twitter