The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Valentine's Day

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
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Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air, even the smog-filled air of L.A., where the owner and employees of flower shop Siena Bouquet experience the mad crush of business that the titular day brings. Shop owner Ashton Kutcher is engaged to Jessica Alba, while his best friend, schoolteacher Jennifer Garner is dating Patrick Dempsey, a handsome doctor and the man of her dreams.

Meanwhile, PR powerhouse Jessica Biel is planning her annual I Hate Valentine’s Day party while sports reporter Jamie Foxx roams the street with camera and microphone looking for quotes from John Q. Public about what VD (my pun, intended) means to them. He likes this about as much as a nail gun to the forehead.

Then there’s Anne Hathaway, a debt-laden receptionist who moonlights by crooning phone sex (in Russian and Southern accents) into her cell when the right ringtone chimes. Co-worker Topher Grace is smitten until he finds this out.

Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo are a couple on the verge of their 51st wedding anniversary with a very sad grandson, Bryce Robinson, who has his own lovesick issues in elementary school.

You’ll also find George Lopez, Queen Latifah, Taylors (Swift & Lautner), Julia Roberts and niece Emma, Bradley Cooper, and Eric Dane amid the sea of pink and red roses, boxes of sumptuous chocolates and huge overstuffed animals.

The plot has the star-filled cast braided into each other’s lives, intersecting at intervals that pop up as the day unfolds in all of its goopy, sweet and conflicted glory. All manner of relationships are featured, from schoolboy crush to the newly engaged, to the high school sweethearts, to the half-century spouses, to co-worker flings, to the terminally single (and bitter), to platonic best friends, to gay relationships, to the familial bond between parent and child.

There are a lot of stories and not much time, so some of the stars featured in the huge ensemble cast make appearances the size of cameos. Storylines cover the well worn territory of best friends (of the opposite sex) who finally “discover” each other romantically, the happily married couple that features one partner harboring a secret, the high school seniors who want THIS day to be the day they finally “do it” and, of course, the pain of infidelity on wives and girlfriends. Not to mention the disappointment that comes with the realization that one is walking the road alone in their expectation of a relationship’s future.

Yes, we’ve been there before, but that means we can relate to at least one subplot from personal experience. Yes, there are contrivances that advance the plot, but they are as strangely forgivable as the cast is likeable.

Standouts include Anne Hathaway as a saucy phone vixen, Queen Latifah as a formidable (but freaky) sports agent and Jennifer Garner, sweetly but stubbornly caught up in a web of deception. Ashton Kutcher possesses the persona to issue forth sincerity and heartbreak in equal parts, and Bryce Robinson’s quest to deliver flowers to his true love by any means necessary might possibly be the sweetest tale in the entire confection-filled story.

Katherine Fugate’s script goes in and out of predictability, enough to keep you interested and guessing. There are some twists you can’t see coming and some you’d recognize in a dark cave while wearing sunglasses.

Director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) tones down the schmaltz to a tolerable level, mixing in enough cynicism, betrayal, and doubt to stave off cinematic diabetes. He even makes a surprise appearance late in the game, but if you choose that moment to reach for more popcorn, you may miss him.

Of course Valentine’s Day was crafted to be a feel-good rom-com, and that’s what you get. Not everyone walks away a winner, though, and that is as it should be. If you take the time to wade through the sugar and flowers and required romantic declarations, you find some surprises tucked into the film, like a note from a secret admirer.

The biggest surprise for me was that I actually liked it.