Dir Garry Marshall, USA, 125mins, 2010
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts
Review by Matthew Rodgers
Get the sick bag ready, because if you don't feel the need to throw up after the opening exchanges of this so called rom-com, that's clearly too much rom and not nearly enough com, then you must have done the only decent thing left to do and walked out.
Garry Marshall, of Pretty Woman fame, attempts to create a transatlantic Love Actually that's actually just one big soppy rip-off. There's the young boy with feelings he can't express. You'll also find a single 30-something – Ashton Kutcher – and his unrequited love for a best friend – Jennifer Garner – although she is in love with that Dr. Dreamy fella from Grey's Anatomy. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx is a valentines despising sportscaster who does all he can to avoid it, ditto Jessica Biel and her anti-valentines party. Anyone guess what's going to happen with them two?
Its hardly plot spoiler material to disclose such details, despite the odd “surprise” that you've had to wade through two hours to get to, all of the ridiculously good looking cast have their fates signposted from the off.
Movie law dictates that the course of true love never runs smoothly, but are we really to believe that Garner's character is one scarred by a past that involved “ acne, braces, and nobody to take me to the winter formal” ? Poor Love. And that Jessica Biel can't muster up a single date? There is suspending disbelief and then there is Valentines Day.
It's a movie crammed with heightened reactions and overblown dramatics that would have even the Sex in the City demographic rolling their eyes. To draw further comparison with Love Actually, there is not a single moment here that carries the emotional weight of what love constitutes that can match Emma Thompson's Joni Mitchell breakdown.
Now this reviewer loves rom-coms as much as the next guy (the awful Made of Honour sits proudly on the DVD shelf) but this is excruciatingly bad saccharine rubbish. If you want evidence that schmaltz can be done well, look no further than (500) Days of Summer.
Plus points are as rare as the caramel chocs in a two day old box, but for what its worth there is a funny peripheral kiddie character called Franklin, Jessica Biel performing the classic helium balloon inhalation, and the Bradley Cooper/Julia Roberts thread is refreshingly subtle amidst the garish cliché. How's that for a date-movie recommendation?