Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 7
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

I’D LIKE TO SEND A DOZEN LONG-STEM ROSES TO MY VALENTINE: Edison (Bryce Robinson, right) offers the $13 and change that he’s saved up to Reed (Ashton Kutcher), the owner of the florist shop, to pay for the roses — which usually cost $55 — and have them delivered to his valentine. Soft-hearted Reed is so taken by Edison’s earnestness that he agrees to take a loss on the purchase.

Valentine’s Day: Marshall’s Romantic Comedy Squanders Talents of Stars

Kam Williams

If you’ve seen Love Actually (2003), then you know what director Garry Marshall was aiming for with Valentine’s Day, a shameless rip-off — with none of the charm — of the delightful romantic comedy it tries to emulate. The original, set in London during the Christmas season, explored an array of issues through the relationships of ten couples. Love Actually’s appeal lay in the deceptive fashion in which its characters were introduced, developed, and serendipitously intertwined en route to a satisfying ending.

In contrast, Valentine’s Day fails in its attempt to generate the same sort of magic. The movie unfolds in Los Angeles over the course of one eventful Valentine’s Day where we find emotional depth replaced by superficiality. Instead of sophisticated badinage we hear locker room banter. And instead of intriguing tales leading to realistic revelations we’re insulted with implausible rabbit-out-of-the-hat developments.

A brief description of a few of the plot’s primary threads will give you a sense of movie’s failings. Receptionist Liz (Anne Hathaway) is having a hard time hiding that she’s a phone sex operator from her new beau, Jason (Topher Grace), the mailroom clerk. Not to worry, he’s so dumb that he thinks Valentine’s Day falls on Thursday every year.

One of Paula’s clients is 35-year-old Sean Jackson (Eric Dane), a pro football star who finally comes out of the closet at the twilight of his career. I know, that also makes no sense.

Meanwhile, grade-school student Edison (Bryce Robinson) buys flowers for an East Indian classmate (Megan Suri), whom he has a crush on. Their cross-cultural puppy love is lifted right out of Love Actually where a similar scenario had a white drummer secretly pining away for the African-American lead singer in the school band. Unfortunately, this movie’s version fails to generate any chemistry or vulnerability.

The same can be said of the additional twists in other liaisons that involve Bradley Cooper, Jessica Alba, Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher, George Lopez, Kathy Bates, Emma Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo, Patrick Dempsey, Taylor Lautner, and Taylor Swift.

Furthermore, every attempt at humor falls flat, whether it’s a Jewish mother telling a pair of nuns whom she has asked to hold her baby that “You should know we’re Jewish,” or Jamie Foxx explaining that ”I am the chocolate” as an excuse for not having Valentine’s Day gift.

When Bob Dylan sang “You just kinda wasted my precious time,” it accurately described my feelings as I was exiting the theater.

Poor (0 stars). Rated PG-13 for sexuality and brief nudity. Running time: 125 Minutes. Distributor: New Line Cinema.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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