This disappointing romantic comedy bonbon seems more geared to celebrity-spotting than cinematic storytelling, as it interweaves the lives of several Los Angelinos during the course of one fateful February 14th.
Beginning Cupid’s eventful day, florist Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) – through whose shop many of the characters pass – proposes to his hesitant girl-friend (Jessica Alba), while his unlucky-in-love best-friend Julia (Jennifer Garner) is dazzled by a doctor (“McDreamy” Patrick Dempsey from “Grey’s Anatomy”) but doesn’t know he’s married with a family. Schoolteacher Julia is also adored by a precocious fifth-grader (Bryce Robinson). Meanwhile, a workaholic publicist (Jessica Biel) shepherds an aging football star (Eric Dane from “Grey’s Anatomy”) whose agent (Queen Latifah) has a new receptionist (Anne Hathaway) who moonlights doing phone-sex. Plus there’s an ambitious TV sportscaster (Jamie Foxx) and his producer (Kathy Bates). High above, an airline passenger (Bradley Cooper) is fascinated by an Army captain (Julia Roberts) who is traveling halfway around the world. Two high schoolers (Carter Jenkins and Emma Roberts, Julia’s real-life niece) plan to lose their virginity over the lunch hour, while two of their classmates (Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift) smooch on the playground. And an elderly couple (Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo) tries to reconcile with a movie from her past (1958’s “Hot Spell”) flickering in the background.
Superficially directed by “Pretty Woman”/”Princess Diaries” veteran Garry Marshall from a sappy, simplistic screenplay by Katherine Fulgate, based on a “Love Boat”-like story by Fulgate, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, it has a few touching moments but basically meanders through tourist-friendly Southern California landmarks like the Hollywood sign, Venice Canals, Disney Hall, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the Bistro Gardens, Bob’s Big Boy and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where old movies are shown at night. While it marks the ditsy screen debut of songbird Taylor Swift, cameos by George Lopez and Larry Miller get the laughs.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Valentine’s Day” is fluffy, flimsy 4. Yet a seasonal sequel, “New Year’s Day,” has already been announced. Don’t say you weren’t warned.