'Valentine's Day' is rom-com garbage soup

'Valentine's Day' is rom-com garbage soup

February 17th, 2010 in Life Entertainment

CASEY PHILLIPS: If you haven't seen a romantic film in the past two decades, you'll love "Valentine's Day."

Without experiencing "Love Actually," you'll think it's clever how "V-Day" interweaves romantic substories with an all-star ensemble. And since you avoided "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "Jerry Maguire," you'll be delighted by the twists and emotional sucker punches most of us can see coming two hours away.

The rest of us will just groan for 90 minutes.

Because it was released on Valentine's Day weekend, director Garry Marshall must have felt he could rely on lowered expectations of couples out for a night on the town. As a result, the film feels like a case study from Romantic Comedy 101. The characters are paper-thin archetypes, and the stories are explored so briefly that the plot feels spastic and rushed.

In fact, "V-Day" would be utterly forgettable if not for a lovably wicked Anne Hathaway as an adult phone entertainer newly smitten with a mailroom clerk (Topher Grace).

HOLLY LEBER: If only she'd expanded her accent collection.

The concept of a handful of intertwined vignettes works if done well ("Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her," the aforementioned "Love Actually") and flops if done poorly (any soap opera).

"Valentine's Day," unfortunately, falls into the latter category. And I'm a sucker for good romantic comedy. And sometimes bad romantic comedy. I find Jennifer Garner, who is basically the acting equivalent of a vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles, adorable and endearing. But this movie left me inwardly groaning most of the way through. Half the story lines could have been eliminated.

On which note, I know we're all supposed to be nice to Taylor Swift since the infamous Kanye West incident, but there are ways to do that: tweet about how cute she is, give her a bunch of Grammy Awards. Don't, for the love of Debbie Gibson, put her in a movie.

CASEY: While we're on the subject of unnecessary Taylors in this film, let's not forget Taylor "I'm a wolf in 'Twilight' " Lautner, who plays Ms. Swift's goofball athletic boyfriend.

Lest we neglect discussing some of the other story lines, here's a brief rundown: sportscaster and sports publicist; adorable elderly couple; student and teacher; aforementioned teacher and heart surgeon; flower salesman and Jessica Alba (as just a pretty face, the best I can tell). Oh, and Queen Latifah.

HOLLY: On the note of sportscaster: Jamie Foxx, you have an Oscar. Playing a ridiculous stereotype ought to be beneath you. There's one saving-grace line to your part. Do better next time.

In fact, pretty much everyone in this movie: Do better next time.

CASEY: I only wish Meg Ryan had been given a cameo so she could roll her eyes and walk off set.

E-mail Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com. E-mail Holly Leber at hleber@timesfreepress.com.