And here I thought that a movie that involved a rather large number of overarching storylines would be hard to follow and pay attention to. Turns out, it wasn’t. After a while, you come to realize that there aren’t as many characters as you thought, or at least, it didn’t seem that way. We become familiar with most of them, so when they appear on-screen, it doesn’t become a surprise after a certain amount of time has passed.
Now, I hate to sound like a contrarian here, but I enjoyed Valentine’s Day. I’ve come to realize that I actually enjoy these kinds of movies, even if they are clichéd, predictable and poorly acted. I guess I just like laughing throughout a film, and still have it hopefully end happily. These types of films are good to watch in between the heavier dramas, while still giving you some of the humanity that you need in order to relate to them.
There are too many subplots and characters to realistically describe them all. The easiest way to do this would be to get you to think about almost any romantic comedy you can think of. Scrape that down to the most basic idea you can, removing all of the important plot elements and twists within it. That story is likely one of the many that take place during Valentine’s Day.
I think, to describe the acting, I will just list actors who both did, or did not, do a good job, and then state why I believe this was. If an actor is not mentioned, then assume they were fine in their role. Topping off my “bad actors” list would be Jennifer Garner, and following her would be Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner. Garner is the biggest offender–she plays a bigger role than either Taylor, and therefore has more of an opportunity to fail–as she shows here that she doesn’t understand how to time her lines in order to make the audience laugh. The Taylor couplet, playing young lovers within the film, doesn’t feel believable at all, and while their story is short and sweet, neither actor proves they belong in the film.
In terms of good acting, there isn’t much to be had. The other characters all play their roles fine, for the most part, but there aren’t any standout performances. The only lead character would be the one played by Ashton Kutcher, and he is the character that the film both opens and closes with. He is also one of the only characters who interacts with almost all of the other cast members, and, if you are playing “Six Degrees of Separation”, he only has to go as far as the number 2 with every other star.
I think that if there is a problem with Valentine’s Day, it would be how cluttered it is. Not in its plot, which, like I mentioned earlier isn’t all that hard to keep track of. There are just too many subplots that have to be wrapped up, and some which just don’t get the time they require in order to be fully fleshed out by film’s end. Many of the stories felt like they were an abbreviated version of an actual romantic comedy, and since we only get a few minutes for it, it means that fleshing characters out is difficult.
Take, for example, the two plots involving high school students. One of them involves the couple (Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins) wanting to have sex on February 14th. That’s the entirety of their story. The other high school couple, the Taylors, choose to stay abstinent. That is also all that comes from their story. We get about 3 or 4 scenes with these characters, and that is all. It’s not hard to keep track of, but it is hard to care.
The other problem that Valentine’s Day has is that because it includes so many characters, it’s difficult to keep track of their names. You’ll recognize character by the face of the actor playing them, not by the character themselves. This both makes the film feel distant, and also means that discussing it after you watch it is difficult, especially if you don’t know who some of the lesser-known actors are. It also, on occasion, makes you wonder for a second what is happening, because a couple of the male actors look similar enough to confuse for a moment.
There are some humorous moments in Valentine’s Day, and I am incredibly thankful for that. It is a romantic comedy, after all. Had it not been funny, even if there are are only a few real “laugh out loud” moments, it would have failed. There are some moments where you will laugh, as well as be able to remember why you laughed. By that I mean these parts are memorable, and will likely stay with you for a short time afterwards.
If this is your kind of movie–a happy-go-lucky, all problems will probably be solved by the end, sometimes humorous romantic comedy, then Valentine’s Day is a film you should probably watch. If it isn’t, and these kinds of films bore you or make you angry, then stay away, far away. The ensemble cast doesn’t get much development, or even character, but you do end up becoming familiar with them. It’s not a great movie, but I enjoyed it a lot despite its flaws.