Nicey nice

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

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.

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