Valentine’s Day can be a dangerous holiday. Thanks to Hallmark cards, giant stuffed animals, flowers and chocolates; Valentine’s Day has become a day for others to see that you are in love, or at the very least have the required valentine, instead of a day when love is celebrated. What this has to do with the film “Valentine’s Day” I will address shortly.
“Valentine’s Day” takes place over roughly an 18-hour period on Flag Day, I mean, Valentine’s Day (sorry, that was a terrible joke). It revolves around the relationships of about a dozen Los Angelenos and their intertwining lives.
It is eerily similar in format and storylines to the popular British film “Love Actually,” which is set during the month of December leading up to Christmas.
From the studio’s standpoint it may make perfect sense to take that concept and apply it to Valentine’s Day, but from a filmmaking standpoint it is problematic. The movie can be compared to a dozen roses that is sent not out of love, but out of obligation because it’s “Valentine’s Day.”
The overlapping storylines feel unoriginal or unnecessary, and with the film breaking the 120–minute mark it becomes overwhelmingly sweet. It is like trying to eat an entire box of Russell Stover’s chocolates; a few would have been great, but after too many, you just want to stop.
Take the character of Morley Clarkson, played by Jessica Alba, who is the girlfriend of hopeless romantic Reed Bennett, played by Ashton Kutcher. She breaks off their half-day old engagement to focus on her career, and subsequently appears in several more scenes for no reason except perhaps to be drooled over by boyfriends who were dragged to the theatre.
There are also the best friends Kara Monahan and Julia Fitzpatrick, from the romantic–comedy stock caharacters library, played by Jessica Biel and Jennifer Garner, respectively.
One is a career–driven woman too neurotic to find love, and the other finds out she is dating a married man. Just when they have given up hope on men and feel the need to smash an “I Hate Valentine’s Day” piñata, what do you know, it turns out love was right under their noses all along! These storylines are meaningless like the dozen roses that get sent by various husbands’ secretaries to their unknowing wives.
These characters factor into the aforementioned Russell Stover analogy, because there are a few good arcs in the film. The best is between Holden played by Bradley Cooper and Captain Kate Hazeltine played by Julia Roberts. They share kind moments on a trans-oceanic flight that ends with a surprising and sweet moment for Julia Roberts’ character, but it just isn’t as enjoyable after eating several clichés with sappiness on top.
Call me a cynic for not finding this film sweet if you like, but I think that if you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day properly, in its true spirit, you should do something meaningful and original, not settle for the Hallmark card that sings some terrible Taylor Swift song. Which reminds me: her character in the film was either a funny parody of the typical high-school student, or her agent desperately needs to look up the word irony.
This film is just like that Hallmark card, it will make you feel good for a little while but ultimately it lacks the depth to be truly meaningful and as a result, like many of the gifts given on Valentine’s Day, doesn’t capture what the day is really about.