VALENTINE’S DAY is a mixed bag of genially unchallenging material designed to appeal to the widest possible audience without actively alienating anybody. It’s a formula that leaves little leeway for anything of a whiz bang nature. Using multiple story lines all loosely centered around a florist helps segregate the dreck from the more entertaining snippets, but, alas, the bad drags the good down with it.
The florist is Reed (Ashton Kutcher), who has decided that there is no better way to start the eponymous holiday than by proposing to his live-in girlfriend, Morely (Jessica Alba). Buoyed by her acceptance, he sets out to insure an equally fabulous day for the world at large, or at least Los Angeles, the land of tap-dancing weathercasters and the cross-section of humanity who will all be observing the day with or without Reeds flowers to help them along. Also buoyed is Reeds best friend, grade-school teacher, Julia (Jennifer Garner), though her doctor beau, Harrison (Patrick Dempsey) will be performing heart surgery elsewhere instead of sharing a romantic evening with her.
Sooner or later everyone in the cast crosses paths with Reed and/or his Rumi-spouting best pal and employee (George Lopez) during the course of the day. That would be the second-string television sportscaster (Jamie Foxx) forced to do a fluffy V-Day piece instead of real journalism, the V-Day hating publicist (Jessica Biel) who handles the pro football player (Eric Dane) who may be past his prime. His lawyer (Queen Latifah) employs the temp (Anne Hathaway) who moonlights as an adult phone entertainer and may have a good thing starting with the guy in the mailroom (Topher Grace). Flying somewhere overhead are the Army captain (Julia Roberts) and her sympathetic seatmate (Bradley Cooper) who do that bonding thing that strangers do in films. Throw in a cute kid (Bryce Robinson) in Julias class, his nanny (Emma Roberts) longing to have sex for the first time that day, her pals (Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner) who are purposely vacuous, and the cute kids grandparents (Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine) and theres barely time for actual plot development. To say that things are sketchy is an understatement. As is calling this schmaltzy.
On the whole, the cast is charming as they work without a net, and who knew that Kutcher would look so fetching in the pink he is forced to sport throughout? The hit or miss effort has a genuinely funny moment as the nannys boyfriend (Carter Jenkins), is discovered in a compromising position by the girls mother. The rest is a sliding scale of platitudes and badly conceived situations reaching its nadir with Biel assuming a fetal position over her lack of a boyfriend while emoting as though she is trying to cough up a particularly nasty bit of phlegm. MacLaine wafting through a cemetery while sporting a sparkling caftan comes a close second, with the Oscar-winner looking like nothing so much as an addled plover attempting flight. And failing in every sense.
VALENTINES DAY offers the pat, the predictable, and the preposterous in equal measure in its relentless attempt to cover all possible romantic bases, yet never quite makes it past home plate.