It was the singer Pink who once said:
This used to be a funhouse. But now it's full of evil clowns.
Sure, she was talking about her own situation, but she might as well have been commenting on the romantic comedy genre as a whole. The comedy angle has been completely lost while the romance factor continues to devolve, against all odds, into an even more tepid and thin product. Into this melee strides Valentine's Day, a focus group champion, plain vanilla with a side of vanilla, preying on our group apathy to succeed.
At some point my mind stopped keeping track of the many relationships presented by Valentine's Day, but I suppose we should give it a shot in case the historians are reading along feverishly, 1000 years into the future, desperately trying to figure out what an Ashton Kutcher was. Here goes! Ashton Kutcher is a florist in love with Jessica Alba. Topher Grace has recently started dating Anne Hathaway. Jamie Foxx is a single sports newscaster who doesn't want to do Valentine's Day stories (can't blame him there). Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift are a high school couple. Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper are on an international flight home to Los Angeles. Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine have been married for over 50 years. Jennifer Garner is dating (McDreamy) Patrick Dempsey, hoping for a commitment. Queen Latifah and Jessica Biel portray the agent and PR rep for star football player (McSteamy) Eric Dane. Teenaged Emma Roberts and her boyfriend are planning to have relations for the first time, and a kid she babysits is in Jennifer Garner's class. George Lopez works for Ashton Kutcher at the flower shop. Kathy Bates is Jamie Foxx's boss. On and on it goes. Crazily enough, even with 42 different plots, the film still feels about 40 minutes too long for its 125-minute running time. It's the best of both worlds: an overly complicated work that still somehow remains relatively uneventful. What the what?
We should quickly talk about where Valentine's Day succeeds, because we're not monsters in the business of constantly ripping art to shreds. I laughed about 17 times during Valentines Day, once every six and a half minutes, so it's not like this film doesn't have some glossy appeal to it. It does. And if you're the sort who just wants to watch actors you've heard of do something -- anything -- on-screen, well, this could turn out to be the absolute highlight of your year.
Sadly, the most prominent feature of Valentine's Day is its overall disjointedness. You don't see a character for 25 minutes, and then when they reappear you think, "Hey, I remember him from earlier in the film!" While I'll cede that having each actor on set for a half day of shooting allowed for more stars to participate, I must question the overall logic of the strategy. You don't have any chance whatsoever to form a connection with the characters, any more than you have a shot at finding love with a passing car while traveling 70 mph down the highway. The best you can do is turn the radio on, turn the radio up, and hope the woman is singing your song. Valentine's Day is clearly trying to play us for a rube, taking advantage of our kind hearts, but we won't get fooled again, will we? Take advantage of me once, shame on you. Take advantage of me twice, don't have 14 plots in your movie.