Is it not bad enough that Hollywood routinely springs carbon-copy romantic comedies on audiences every month or so, all with the same predictable, contrived stories and cardboard characters? Do we really need a movie that crams a dozen of those stories into one overstuffed feature, giving us rom-com overload? Apparently we do, because here is Valentine’s Day, filled with big stars coasting through insubstantial roles in sketchily drawn stories that never need more than the most basic of plot details, because each one gets as much screen time as a sitcom episode.
Valentine’s Day is cast like a PowerPoint presentation at a movie-studio marketing meeting: It has six Oscar nominees, two hunky Grey’s Anatomy doctors, two generations of the Roberts acting family, two men’s-magazine-cover-girl Jessicas, two tween sensations named Taylor and two black people. Yet none of these famous faces puts more than the minimum required effort into the intersecting love stories anchored by a florist (Kutcher) and his best friend (Garner), who take until the end of the movie to ditch their respective ill-suited lovers and realize they are meant for each other.
Each of the many characters gets their own predictable happy ending, and one or two of the stories, given a little meat, might actually have been worthy movies on their own. But director Garry Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate move desperately from one vignette to the next, occasionally leapfrogging over seemingly important plot points, and the jokes are as perfunctory as the acting.
Not that movie-star apathy will prevent lazy viewers from flocking to this movie as an easy V-Day time-waster, nor has it stopped producers from already moving ahead with a similarly structured sequel based around New Year’s Eve, as a potential franchise-starter. The way things are going, we’ll be stuck with Arbor Day around 2016.