‘Valentine’s Day’ an ideal date movie

Rick Bentley

When making movies, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Director Garry Marshall’s romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day
is loaded with more stars than a season of “The Love Boat,” “Dancing
With the Stars” and “Celebrity Rehab” combined. The result: celebrity

And in an effort to take care of all the stars, Marshall ends up short-changing everyone.

His lineup includes Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Jennifer Garner, Emma Roberts, Jessica Alba, Topher Grace, Jessica Alba, Bradley Cooper, Hector Elizondo, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift.

Structured similarly to the wonderfully made “Love
Actually,” Marshall weaves together a host of romantic stories, all
played out on Valentine’s Day. The difference between the two films is that Marshall does twice as much weaving and in many places the stories just unravel.

You need a road map to follow some of the
storylines. A romantic florist (Kutcher) asks his girlfriend (Alba) to
marry him. His best female friend (Garner), who’s involved with a
married man (Dempsey), and his best male friend (Lopez), who ends up in
a car accident with a football player (Dane), don’t think she is right
for him.

Imagine that kind of twisting and turning repeated
with at least eight other storylines. Trying to keep up with all the
players is exhausting. Even worse, instead of being fully formed tales
or romance, each storyline has about as much depth as a little candy
heart that says “Be Mine.”

Interesting relationships — like that between Grace
and Hathaway, a couple trying to cope with her odd occupation — move at
a gallop and cheat the viewer. And Taylor Swift’s part as a romance-crazy high school student is reduced to a half-dozen quick scenes of her giggling.

This film is like a Hallmark card — designed to quickly elicit an emotional reaction with the promise of little more.

Even with its flaws, “Valentine’s Day
is an ideal date movie. It has enough hunks and babes to hold the
attention of both halves of a couple, yet it isn’t deep enough to
generate any potential squabbles.

Valentine’s Day

Grade: C-plus

Rating: PG-13 (sexual situations, brief partial nudity)

Starring: Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Jennifer Garner, Emma Roberts, Jessica Alba, Jessica Alba, Patrick Demspey, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Taylor Swift. Directed by Garry Marshall.

Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes.

(c) 2010, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).

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