Valentine's Day - Review

As gooey and lacking in protein as a chocolate holiday bonbon, "Valentine's Day" plays like a feature-length commercial produced by the Friends of the Valentine Promotional Society. Almost every scene is larded by talk of flowers, gifts, cards, restaurants and other ways to spend gobs of money on a single day, all delivered by a raft of attractive stars or semi-stars rotated on and off by director Garry Marshall. Never was there a film more release date-targeted than this one, which only means that, once opening weekend is gone, so will be the audience.

A compendium of lovers found, lost and avenged on a day designed to make you feel bad if you don't have anyone, this would rate high on any list of pictures featuring the greatest number of talented actors given the least interesting things to do, as well as the most gaping differential between the beauty of many of the performers and the way they're made to look.

It would be interesting to know why the New Line Cinema titles now released by Warner Bros. invariably look worse than actual Warner Bros. productions; the sets seem cheaper, the lighting gaudier, the color processing worse, the soundtrack compendiums patchier. All this does no favors to the parade of beauties here, as Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Emma and Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift on the female side, and Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher and Taylor Lautner among the guys, have all been seen to better advantage elsewhere.

And that's before they even open their mouths. Screenwriter Katherine Fugate had to have spent more time figuring out how to shuffle all the characters on and offscreen with a measure of balance and coherence than giving them anything amusing to say. Virtually all the women speak with the same snippy, frayed-nerves cadence, which most of the guys respond to with more bland agreeability -- or, in a couple of cases, evasiveness -- than imagination.

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