Valentine’s Day (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

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Rating: PG-13

Jessica Alba as Morley Clarkson
Kathy Bates as Susan
Jessica Biel as Kara Monahan
Bradley Cooper as Holden
Eric Dane as Sean Jackson
Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Harrison Copeland
Hector Elizondo as Edgar
Jamie Foxx as Kelvin Moore
Jennifer Garner as Julia Fitzpatrick
Topher Grace as Jason
Anne Hathaway as Liz
Carter Jenkins as Alex
Ashton Kutcher as Reed Bennett
Queen Latifah as Paula Thomas
Taylor Lautner as Willy
George Lopez as Alphonso
Shirley MacLaine as Estelle
Emma Roberts as Grace
Julia Roberts as Captain Kate Hazeltine
Bryce Robinson as Edison
Taylor Swift as Felicia

Directed by Garry Marshall

Special Features:
The Stars Confess Their Valentine’s Day Stories
Commentary By Director Garry Marshall
The Garry Factor
Jewel Stay Here Forever music video
Blooper Reel
Exclusive Sex And The City 2 Sneak Peak Trailer
Additional Scenes

Includes Standard DVD Copy Of Valentine’s Day

Includes Digital Copy Of Valentine’s Day For Portable Media Players

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French and Spanish Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 125 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“An all-star cast sparkles in this hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy from the director of Pretty Women and The Princess Diaries. Stories crisscross, collide and boomerang in this look at a day in the life of love. There’s a proposal. Flowers that didn’t get sent. A big fat secret that’s finally told. The ‘I’ll show up and surprise him’ that ended up surprising her. Fights, kisses, wrong turns, right moves and more. Whether new to or through with love, you’ll fall in love with this 19-star, funny-side-up celebration of romance.”

“Valentine’s Day” is rated PG-13 for some sexual material and brief partial nudity.

The Movie:
Valentine’s Day gets a lot of criticism (which certainly doesn’t stop us from observing it every year). That it’s a made up holiday, that it serves no purpose than to give purveyors of schmaltz and easy sentiment another easy conduit for their product. And just to prove the people who think that right, we’ve been given Garry Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day.”

It would take just about the entire length of this review to explain how the vast cast of characters who make up “Valentine’s Day” connect together, (there’s a florist who’s best friend is dating a doctor and teaches a young boy who lives with his grandparents but is babysat by a teenager preparing to sleep with her boyfriend and… I’ve already lost interest) but suffice it to say they do come together (even if they don’t always know it) on Valentine’s Day as various relationships begin and end and the nature of love itself is examined.

That’s a pretty big reach for any film, and an even bigger canvas Marshall (“Pretty Woman”) is going to approach it with. Luckily for everyone, he’s decided to be as banal and shallow about it as possible. Marshall came up from sitcoms and it’s always shown in his feature work which tend to be based on characters being maneuvered from situation to situation like set dressing in the endless pull of set up and punchline.

The punchline’s haven’t changed much for sitcoms or for Marshall, so most of them can be seen coming from a long way off. The real tension to be had is how long exactly he’s going to hold his punch for. You can see the pay off, and it can be a little interesting how long you have to wait for it, but that’s about it.

What you’re left with are the actors. Not the characters, because these characters aren’t characters. What you get then are non-characters. They’re stereotypes inhabited by actors who have been cast to type, and who have only a few minutes per scene to jump into character. It’s no surprise then that most of the dialogue comes out more like a line reading during a table read than something someone real is actually saying.

This kind of stunt casting makes the odds of ending up with any sort of genuine chemistry among the characters minimal at best. Which is a problem because with the sheer weight of characters floating around “Valentine’s Day” chemistry and charm are about the filmmaker’s only hope. Many story-lines–like Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift’s young, air-headed, first romance teenagers–are more like brief tableau’s of scenes jammed together rather than an actual story. Sometimes this kind of thing can work, if the actors are good enough and the dialogue is sharp enough.

Some of it is actually winsome. Jamie Foxx descends back to some of his “In Living Color” silliness that he won’t let himself do anymore as a sportscaster forced by his producer (Kathy Bates) to go out and find some romantic stories for the day.

And Anne Hathaway gets a lot of mileage out of a secretary trying to balance her temp job working for a high stress sports agent (Queen Latifah) and new relationship with a guy from the mail room (Topher Grace) with her nighttime job as a phone sex operator. As one note as most of the set ups and pay offs are, she actually makes them work more often than not.

On the other end you get Julia Roberts’ pointless plane trip, Jessica Biel’s obligatory neurotic and Ashton Kutcher playing the straight man, which is definitely not to his strengths (On the other hand at least he’s not shouting to be funny). It’s a hodgepodge at best, with many sequences seemingly created in order to get an actor into the film rather than offering anything to the story itself. The end result is something of a wash.

If you mainly watch movies in order to see actors you like, “Valentine’s Day” is a bargain at twice the price. The minute per movie star average is off the chart here. And if you like sit-coms, it’s even better. But considering the trend for movies has been away from movie stars and more and more towards visuals, it seems more and more likely that this movie wasn’t made for anyone.

The Extras:
You’ll find a decent batch of bonus features on the Blu-ray. First up is “The Stars Confess Their Valentine’s Day Stories.” The title pretty much says it all. The cast discuss their various Valentine’s memories from elementary school to present day. It’s amusing, but brief. “The Garry Factor” shows all the cast praising their director. This seems to be a standard part of any Garry Marshall DVD. You’ll also find a music video, Commentary by Director Garry Marshall, and a Blooper Reel. But the biggest bonus feature is the collection of deleted scenes. With the introductions by Marshall, they total up to about 22 minutes of extra footage. That’s a lot. With the Blu-ray you’ll also get a sneak preview of “Sex and the City 2,” a DVD copy of the film, and a digital copy for portable devices.