On The Big Screen: Valentine’s Day

For an insightful glimpse into the mysteries of love and relationships, Gary Marshall’s Valentine’s Day is a must see. From the producers that made Love Actually comes a film that similarly challenges our conceptions of romance and the possibility for human connection in today’s fast-paced, commercial world. Viewers will leave the theater still aching in sympathy for hearts broken and hearts joined.

Just kidding! Valentine’s Day is every bit as tawdry and superficial as the holiday it commemorates. Its hefty opening weekend gross (52.4 million dollars) can be largely attributed to moviegoers who mused, “Hey. Valentine’s Day. Like the day it is.” That, and the crowds of horny preteens who couldn’t resist watching Taylor Swift AND Taylor Lautner make out on the big screen. (I only wish I had been the visionary critic to coin the phrase “T2.”)

If I were to describe this movie’s plot in a nutshell? Well, that nutshell would probably explode in a shower of confusion and self-loathing. Much like its baby daddy, Love Actually, this film is not so much a story as a jumbled intersection of stuff that happens. Some people get lucky and some people don’t, with no apparent justification (except that Patrick Dempsey is a huge tool and totally deserves what’s coming to him). Also, everyone’s connected. I know, weird right?

Yes, perhaps the greatest failing of Valentine’s Day is that it isn’t Love Actually. And, oh, how it tries to be. Take the actors who appeared in Love Actually and strip away fifteen years, British accents, and every last vestige of talent they possess and you’ve pretty much got the cast of Valentine’s Day. Right down to the little boy who needs romantic advice from a surrogate parent, Valentine’s Day tries to replace its progenitor while still pleasing the same target demographic. It’s a romantic tragicomedy with an Oedipus complex.

To be fair, you might like this movie. If you’re gay. That’s right, this film even manages to take on the topical controversy of gay rights, and with all the taste and subtlety of a Tea Party rally. The triumphant scene in Valentine’s Day has down-on-his-luck quarterback Sean Jackson (Eric Dane) announcing his sexual orientation at a would-be retirement press conference. His immortal words: “I’m gay and I’m gonna play.” Cementing the film’s message of tolerance, sports news reporter Kelvin Moore (Jamie Foxx) later quips, “I’m right behind you, not literally but . . .”

What’s left to say? I can’t physically prevent you from seeing this movie. Can’t, not wouldn’t. I can only request that you consider the type of entertainment you are supporting before you go to the box office. Hopefully, I haven’t given the impression that Valentine’s Day was a “so-bad-it’s-good” type of flick. It’s not. It’s a “so-bad-it’s-more-interesting-to-watch-your-own-vomit-puddle-between-your-feet-than-to-look-at-the-screen” type of flick. Purchasing the ticket that allowed me to review this terrible film is something I’m going to have to live with. Kill all the mockingbirds you want. Just stay away from Valentine’s Day.

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