LORD HELP us, this film is so nice you want to scream. Garry Marshall, industry veteran and all round genial bloke, makes sure to find speaking roles for disabled actors and to have signers on hand whenever possible.
Valentine’s Day is casual about homosexual relationships, assures us that seniors still enjoy romance, is non-judgmental but responsible about teenage sex and, whenever any large gathering takes place, makes sure to balance the races perfectly.
Lest we think Marshall a liberal zealot, the film even includes a sympathetic character (well, as sympathetic as Julia Roberts gets these days) who is returning from fighting in an unspecified overseas war. Heck, it is so nice that it makes Love, Actually seem like that Lars von Trier thing with all the genital mutilation.
What we have here is nine (10? 12?) bad romcoms digested and packaged as a single unattractive job lot. If the film is to be believed, the citizens of Los Angeles all turn into backward children when February 14th comes round. Ashton Kutcher proposes to girlfriend Jessica Alba, but, we quickly discern, he should really be with best pal Jennifer Garner. Capt Roberts makes friends with dishy Bradley Cooper on her flight back from the war zone. Anne Hathaway’s relationship with Topher Grace flounders because she can’t tell him she works as a phone sex operative. Two stilted Taylors – Ms Swift and Mr Lautner – flirt in the school canteen.
And the stars keep coming. There’s Shirley MacLaine. Here’s Jessica Biel. Look, it’s Jamie Foxx. You’re probably in this film. Yes, there you are, smiling inanely at Queen Latifah.
It hardly needs to be said that some of the storytelling is a little hurried. (Ask yourself what happens after Kutcher leaves Garner at the airport. I’d really like to know.) The film is more a collection of pitches than a compendium of interlocking short films. None ends unexpectedly. None allows any character development. None entirely avoids nausea.
Still, it would seem genuinely wicked to give the most severe kicking to something quite so nice. Have a second pink star on us, Garry.