Cast: Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Alba, Emma Roberts, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Topher Grace,Hector Elizondo, Who am I forgetting?
Director: Garry Marshall
Free Admission Granted
One of Valentine’s Day’s big stars, Jessica Biel, plays a lovesick publicist who throws a pity party each year on Valentine’s Day to mark another year without a guy. As if Biel or any other member of the star-studded cast would have trouble finding dates.
On this particular year, the pity party has no takers. That’s something of a surprise. After being saddled with this melted-chocolate film and its dead rose of a script, every member of Valentine’s Day’s long roster of the famously beautiful deserves a good pity party. With some care, attention, and alcohol, it could even turn into a support group.
When we watch a movie with a giant cast of stars, we want to see them interact, play off each other, match skill and ego. With a few notable exceptions, Valentine’s Day fails to deliver, its stars spending most of its time in isolation, unless you count a wickedly and intentionally starless set of male pushovers (Patrick Dempsey, Topher Grace, and the like). In fact, the film’s one interesting pair is the underrated Biel with the only male star of rival stature, the charismatic Jamie Foxx. It’s the one story that you sort of wish they would chuck all the other stories in favor of.
I said sort of.
So Valentine’s Day’s enduring mysteries are not the mysteries of love. They are the mysteries of casting. Starring in Valentine’s Day is less a matter of appearing in a film than making sure that you get into the right Hollywood sorority, no matter how bitchy the sisters are. If you’re not in, you’re definitely out. It’s not as important to be in the film as it is not to be outside of it.
Yet strangely, the sorority sisters don’t even get rewarded with the funny things to do or say. Time after time, director Garry Marshall, he of Pretty Woman fame and Exit to Eden infamy, wraps up its few laughs for the faceless bit players wandering at the edges. The result is Cupid shooting arrows not dipped in love but rather in career poison.
So who survives this thing? Biel and Foxx, as mentioned, might have made an interesting date movie on their own. Julia Roberts has one great moment demonstrating the power of star presence. While her phone sex secretary role shows her cut above-ness, even those of us who have championed Anne Hathaway need to stop and wonder if she’s starting to waste her career.
On the downside, yesterday’s bombshell Jessica Alba fades into the woodwork of the Beverly Wilshire hotel even among these meager surroundings. Jennifer Garner confirms her status as the actress who’s remarkably adequate at doing what 100 other actresses could do. And as an actress Taylor Swift makes a great singer.
Aside from once again noting one of my favorite Laws of the Cinema – there is no good movie in which the phrase “Copy that” appears – that’s all I have to say.