Valentine’s Day director Garry Marshall once said that Love, American Style was “where failed sitcom pilots went to die.” And in Katherine Fugate’s screenplay, which follows a handful of Los Angeles residents over the course of a single Valentine’s Day, we get several such sitcom scenarios. How about the one with a retired couple (Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine) caring for their precocious fifth-grade grandson (Bryce Robinson)? Or the transplant from the Midwest (Topher Grace) whose new girlfriend (Anne Hathaway) secretly moonlights as a fetish phone-sex operator? Or the neurotic publicist (Jessica Biel) whose relationship with chocolate and her treadmill has lasted longer than any boyfriend? These sub-plots are all superficial to various degrees, but the extent of that superficiality is accentuated by the sheer tonnage of characters and their accompanying entanglements. So even if you were interested in, say, what happens after florist Reed (Ashton Kutcher) proposes to his girlfriend (Jessica Alba), there isn’t nearly enough time spent on their stories for us to get to know them. Depending on how you parse the shifting narrative, Valentine’s Day covers approximately 20 main characters and 10 significant romantic angles over the course of its 120 minutes. Do the math and figure out what each sub-plot can possibly deliver besides a cutesy intro, perfunctory conflict, and happily-ever-after.
Director: Garry Marshall
Writer: Katherine Fugate, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
Producer: Mike Karz, Wayne Allan Rice and Josie Rosen
Cast: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Shirley McClaine, Julia Roberts, Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift