Unreal Movie Review: Valentine’s Day


Watching Valentine’s Day is like if someone took every romantic comedy you ever thought looked god-awful and smashed them all together into one two hour film. There’s Ashton Kutcher, the guy who’s proposing to his super hot girlfriend (Jessica Alba), but his best friend is in the mix too (Jennifer Garner). There’s Topher Grace, the Midwestern farmboy who moves to the big city and is swept off his feet by a sultry vixen out of his league (Anne Hathaway). Or would you prefer an old couple working through marital strife while dishing out sage advice? A neurotic professional woman who’s wound to tight to find love? Maybe a high school girl and her boyfriend trying to have sex for the first time amidst calamitous circumstances? An instant connection on a plane? A boy in love with his teacher? We’ve got ‘em all!

I’ve been searching for a long time for a worthy American remake of one of the only romantic comedies I find tolerable, Love Actually. When She’s Just Not that Into You failed miserably, I had a brief moment of hope that Valentine’s Day might fill that void. A cast jam-packed with A-listers, multiple storylines all weaving in and out of each other based around a major holiday, and various examples of just what love truly means.


“My dad always told me, if you ever wake up to find naked Jessica Alba in your bed, you marry her.” 

However, all the plotlines I’ve given you thus far feel like ten movies have already been made about each of them. Putting a bunch of unoriginal pieces together does not make for an original whole. Nearly all of the romances found in Love Actually were stories we’d never come across before. A writer and his maid falling in love despite a gaping language barrier, two porn stand-ins who fall in love on set, the prime minister of a country falling for his personal assistant. But the film expanded beyond traditional “love” love, and brought us storylines like the rockstar who loves his faithful manager, a sexless loser and his snatch-finding journey to America, a platonic love between friends both recently suffering a loss.

But no, Valentine’s Day is having none of that, and the stories it decides to stick with are tried and true favorites, but I’m not particularly interested in seeing them again with different actors in the same old roles. It’s not that impressive that all these stories are woven together somehow, yet the film acts like this is some big deal. A kid who is babysat by a girl who’s friends with a cheerleader who’s interviewed by a newscaster who knows a publicist of an athlete who knows a guy on a plane who meets the mother of the initial kid we started this sentence with. It’s like the writers just threw out a phrase like that, and decided to base a movie around it.


After a while, you just get used to playing “Spot the Celebrity.”

Valentine’s Day isn’t quite as awful as I imagined it, as it does elicit some halfway decent performances from the actors involved. We get to see some step outside their comfort zone (Anne Hathaway giving phone sex is something I never thought I’d witness) and some are more relatable than we thought they could ever be (I truly did sympathize with Ashton Kutcher’s character in the film, which is a definite first). But the main problem with it all is just there’s hardly ever any chemistry between ANY of the onscreen couples, a problem that’s greatly helped by a pretty awful script that can best be described as “charmless.”

Love Actually flowed seamlessly between its many winding stories. Valentine’s Day feels like a lumbering Frankenstein as it stumbles down the road, made up of pieces that don’t quite fit with each other. Sure, there are moments of genuine emotion, as some of the scenes are genetically engineered to be at least a LITTLE bit tear jerking, but ultimately its nothing we haven’t seen before and this movie’s assembly and release makes it seem like one of the most purposefully engineered film’s I’ve ever seen. It’s $60M opening weekend haul would attest to all the check boxes it ticks for the millions of couples around the world who wanted to see the ultimate chick flick on Valentine’s Day. I mean, it’s got TWO Grey’s Anatomy doctors in it for god’s sake!

I don’t fault the filmmakers for trying to capitalize on the holiday, it’s just that I wish a good film had come out of it, because I KNOW all these pieces have yielded a great result previously. But unfortunately, it appears we Americans only get one great movie love story every few years or so, and we’ve recently used up all our charm points on 500 Days of Summer.

2 out of 5 stars


And Taylor, I love you, but stick to singing. 

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