Thursday, July 8, 2010

The BC Review: Valentine's Day

Despite being the subject of some utterly toxic critical reviews, the Garry Marshall directed, Romantic Comedy (RomCom), Valentine’s Day offers a delightful compilation of short vignettes depicting intertwining relationships in various stages. Although similar to the British Romantic Comedy, Love Actually (Valentine’s Day also goes for the built-in popular appeal utilizing a heavy star-laden cast), the film also shies away from the sugary sweet RomCom-style and shows a darker side of love and relationships.

Set on the day of all days for lovers, boyfriends and girlfriends, fiancées, husbands and wives, and in one case, a mother and her son, Valentine’s Day gives us an at times amusing (and at times depressing) story of individuals experiencing the Hallmark-created and singleton-shunned holiday.

In the first scene we are introduced to two young lovers, Reed Bennett (played by Ashton Kutcher) and Morely Clarkson (played by Jessica Biel). As the sun rises Reed excitedly hops out of bed and prepares himself for the biggest question he will pose to someone else in his life; “Will you marry me?” to his still sleeping fiancée. Fortunately for Reed, Morely graciously accepts. Soon after, Reed runs to his best friend Alphonso (played by a somewhat comedic, George Lopez) to proclaim his joy. Much to his (and our) dismay, Alphonso appears surprised upon learning of Morely’s acceptance (this then becomes a recurring theme throughout the film).

Fast forward to another couple, we see two people sharing a shoulder and an armrest on a plane. It is not long before we learn the man is Holden (played by Bradley Cooper), a well-dressed and charismatic sulking soul suffering the remnants of a broken affair and the woman (expertly using his shoulder as a pillow) is Kate Hazeltine (played by Julia Roberts) a soldier making a 14-hour trip home to see someone very special for Valentine’s Day .

A third couple gives us two young people in the midst of no-less-than two-week old relationship. Liz (played by Anne Hathaway) and Jason (played by Topher Grace) demonstrate the utter awkwardness of celebrating a holiday built around the public expression of love. Additionally, of course, as this is a romantic comedy, there is something peculiar (and quite funny) about Liz. I won’t spoil that one for you – just suffice it to say, she is a struggling actress who utilizes her talent for impersonations in the evening hours.

For the sake of brevity, the three scenarios above are just the tip of the ice-burg. The film includes several more vignettes; each complete with its own unique twists and turns.

As I mentioned earlier, Valentine’s Day is jam-packed with stars, giving us no less than nineteen "A" Listers, including: Julia Roberts, Patrick Dempsey, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper, Topher Grace, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Kathy Bates, Ashton Kutcher, Emma Roberts, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Eric Dane, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, Hector Elizondo, and Queen Latifah.

Reviewer’s Note: Keep an eye out for the impressive comedic performance of Country singer/songwriter, Taylor Swift. The novice actress gives quite a performance as a giddy love-sick teenager fawning over real-life teen heartthrob Taylor Lautner (Twilight Saga’s Jacob).

Valentine’s Day is not for the faint of heart (as the film depicts, not all love stories are meant to be), but is recommended for fans of compilation films (i.e. Coffee and Cigarettes, Love Actually) and the romantic comedy.

The Bee Charmer Review Rating: B