Blu-Ray Review: Valentine's Day

The recently released Blu-Ray of Valentine’s day contains a bonus feature entitled “The Garry Factor” in which the stars of the film explain how director Garry Marshall is “the only reason they agreed to do the film.”  Having just endured over two hours of this incomprehensibly inane cinematic fluff, I can understand why.  True, he is a legendary director, but there is nothing about this script that should appeal to any of the huge stars assembled on screen.

I mean, he was able to assemble a cast that included Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Bradley Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, and on and on.  It’s not even worth running through the list as there are so many recognizable names on screen.  Yet despite the star power, the film falls completely flat due to its total lack of substance.  As the title indicates, the film takes place over the course of one Valentine’s Day.  We follow the huge ensemble cast as they go throughout this “happiest of days,” having conversations about the nature of love that would make a Hallmark card seem deep.

This is one of those films in which we watch a series of supposedly unrelated stories play out, and then watch how they come together.  This has been done a billion times in Hollywood, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done to such poor effect.  There is no intrigue as to how the stories are related.  We’re just watching several different Valentine’s Day situations and then find out in a shocking reveal that some of these people are related.  That’s about as complicated as it gets.

To make matters worse, while the film is billed as a romantic comedy, I can’t think of a single humorous moment in the entire film.  There are moments that I suppose are meant to be funny, but those moments are just forced sitcom-style encounters.  Most of the movie is just unrealistic dialogue and situations.  None of the characters feel real, but rather caricatures designed to provoke the most simplistic reaction out of an audience.  It’s almost insulting that Hollywood thinks this is what people want to see in a romantic comedy.

I know that I might be coming across as simply cynical and jaded about the concept of romance, but I honestly love a good romantic film, comedy or otherwise.  One of my favorites is Love Actually, a film similar in structure to this one, but that actually has something to say about love.  There are ideas and real characters in that film, as well as genuine heart.  It’s as if Valentine’s Day took everything that worked about that movie and did the opposite.

I don’t know where things went so wrong.  As I said, Garry Marshall is responsible for some fantastic movies, but it’s ridiculous just how phoned in this film is.  Everything about this movie reeks of a director and cast just going through the motions.  There’s the cute kid, the wacky airport scene, the breakups, the get-togethers, and of course the constant philosophizing about romance and love.  I felt patronized just watching it.

The Blu-Ray is exactly what you’d expect from a movie such as this.  There are a few short bonus features, including the one mentioned above about Garry Marshall.  There is also a short segment where “the stars confess their Valentine’s Day stories.”  The name pretty much says it all on that one.  There’s also a blooper reel and over 22 minutes of deleted scenes.  As the film already lasts over two hours, I can understand why these sequences were cut.  I did like that Garry Marshall actually introduces all the deleted scenes, explaining his thought process behind the cuts.  But other than those features, a music video from Jewel, and a commentary track from Marshall, there isn’t a lot to be found on this disc.

In case I haven’t made this clear, I really disliked this movie.  Any of the multiple stories or characters could have been cut, and it wouldn’t have affected any of the others.  That’s not the sign of a good ensemble film.  I’m sure all of the actors had a great time working with Marshall, but I just wish that any of them might have taken the quality of the script into consideration before signing on.  There is nothing to love about this Valentine’s Day.

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