Tuesday, March 2, 2010

VALENTINE'S DAY

MOVIE REVIEW

Review by FRANCIS DASS


VALENTINE'S DAY
Directed by Garry Marshall
Starring Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Carter Jenkins, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Bryce Robinson, Taylor Swift, Matthew Walker, Larry Miller, Joe Mantegna, Garry Marshall

It'd be no surprise if, the first time you see this disposable romance and the sheer number of stars who continuously keep creeping out of the woodwork, you end up wondering if the film had a gazillion dollars for its budgets.

As the film's title indicates, the movie is centred on Valentine's Day. It starts with various couples preluding and then celebrating Feb 14th, driven by their own visions of love.

The unrealistic Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) wakes up and proposes to Morley Clarkson (Jessica Alba). She, who has seen an awful marriage at work -- her own parents' -- is wisely not as keen on the idea as he is.

Reed, is oblivious to her true feelings and goes through the day fantasising about a happily married life with Morley. (Yes, there will be those of us who retch at the idea of Punk'd's Kutcher being given so much screen time but take consolation in the fact that although Demi Moore's cub is a lousy actor -- mercifully! -- the other stars are infinitely more watchable and make the lightweight film enjoyable.)

Most fortunate for us, there is also Jason (Topher Grace) and Liz (Anne Hathaway). Grace, from the That 70s Show fame has grown to be a very lean and muscled man and his on-screen likeability is remarkable. Yes, this young man has leading man potential written all over him. Hathaway, of course is the most talented actress of her generation and is practically a screen magnet. Everything she does and says on the silver screen is riveting. She is the Julia Roberts of her generation.

But talent alone is nothing if one has no one of equal or some measure to spar with. So, the best thing director Garry Marshall has done is pair Hathaway with Grace. Their onscreen chemistry is heartwarming, cute and endearing.

Also on the high end of the Hollywood performance scale, there are two solid actors Susan (Kathy Bates), a television producer, and her journalist Kelvin Moore (Jamie Foxx). Bates' Susan gets Kelvin to do a coverage of Valentine's Day, veering him off his true calling as a sports journalist.

In case you wondered if the film is a showcase of love amongst random couples, note that there is a six-degrees-of-separation thread at work and the characters are all linked in one way or another -- as friends, colleagues, lovers and/or florists etc.

The kinds of love projected in this film is not that varied from the many forms of love that we have come to see on the silverscreen. So, not to flog this love horse any further, the other characters in the film are:  the delectable Kara Monahan (Jessica Biel) who is a public relations practitioner; Sean Jackson (Eric Dane) whom Kara represents; the delightful Paula Thomas (Queen Latifah) who is part of Sean's talent management package; the dashing Holden (Bradley Cooper) who befriends Captain Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts) while on a flight; the philandering Dr Harrison Copeland (Patrick Dempsey) who is having an affair with the all-jaw-and-funny-enunciation Julia Fitzpatrick (Jennifer Garner); and Edgar (Hector Elizondo) who is married to the flamboyant and diva-esque Estelle (Shirley MacLaine) who once had an affair with Edgar's business partner.

Oh, and there are also Willy (Taylor Lautner) and Felicia (Taylore Swift) who play a young, dizzy and silly couple in high school. Swift is a ditsy delight and showcases her talent for comedy rather well.

As you can imagine, Garry Marshall who is now 76 years old knows that love is overrated and comes in all colours and flavours. Although he does the right thing with the Hollywood studio that funded his film (i.e. there are plenty of happy endings all around!), audiences also get to see that loving someone is all about accepting one's partner's weaknesses and foibles. The point that Valentine's Day valiantly makes is that it is the ups an downs of life that  make a relationship so much fun and being with a partner is better than being alone in life!

And it must be said that although Julia Roberts has a small role, and Marshall has captured some really, really unflattering angles of this actress' feature in this film, she has a magical way of working her lines and and it is astonishing to see the raw power of her talent when she is emoting even the slightest of feelings.

The script, although can be saccharine at times, is also funny often times. Valentine's Days is a harmless and worthwhile distraction if you are up to it. The funny references to other movies also work towards making this film enjoyable.

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