If you are going to name your film after one of the most popular cultural holidays around you better make sure it lives up to the name. The new Garry Marshall directed film, VALENTINE’S DAY, is a lot like love itself. At times it is a bit confusing as it pulls you in different directions and you wonder if you will ever understand where it is taking you. Just when you think you have it figured out it makes a turn you didn’t see coming. But in the end you realize that the joy was in the entire journey as it splendidly captures every nuance of the holiday it was named for.
There are a handful of stories within the story and at first you feel like you are watching several mini movies at once. But it soon settles in and you start to see some of the tales cross paths; and that is where the fun begins. Katherine Fugate writes a witty, unique, puzzle of a script with only a few questionable elements. She weaves the players in and out of the story line and never lingers too long on one path before veering into the next lane. This helps the film to move at a quick pace and only once or twice does it bog down. She keeps it simple enough though so that you don’t get lost along the way. You can sit back and enjoy the ride without the feeling that you are getting left behind.
Marshall was made to direct this film and it has his relevance, endearment and charm all over it. He takes each stage of romance from playground puppy love to lifelong devotion and shows it in a relatable fashion. Love takes on many faces and this one unmasks them all well. The cast is phenomenal and normally when you have this many big names it spells disaster. But each one brings the personality that we have grown to love and admire and they mold it so well into the characters they have been given. Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey and others lend a hand in this romantic flick. The only thing I question is the arc of Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift as high school sweethearts. Each of their scenes plays more like an SNL skit and could have easily been left out. But they are brief and luckily rare.
VALENTINE’S DAY is rated PG-13 for some sexual material and brief partial nudity. Honestly the nudity must have been really brief because I never saw it. The film covers every element of fidelity in and out of marriage but it does it with a genuine heart that Marshall is famous for. The script does not shy away from today’s lifestyles but talks openly yet cleanly about each one. It is safe for those 14 and over though I think the mid 20′s and up will get more from it. If ever there was the perfect date movie for this red holiday, VALENTINE’S DAY is it. From 25 to 75 there is something in here that will stir up new love or rekindle an old one. I give it 4.5 out of 5 kisses. It is destined to become as much a part of the holiday as Hallmark and Russel Stovers. So says Matt Mungle