It’s easy to be taken in by the starpower that Valentine’s Day exudes as there is well over twenty well-known celebrities in the film. In many instances they’re on the screen together and over the course of the sporadic film they cross paths and end up as entirely different couples by the end of the film. The films ploy definitely worked—the paltry $52 million dollar budget paid off with an over $200 million worldwide intake. As far as romantic comedies go, this was definitely the Transformers 2 of its genre—lots of pomp and show and very little (if any) substance.
The starriest cast you may ever see sparkles in a hilarious and heartwarming romcom from the director of Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries. Stories crisscross, collide and boomerang in this look at a day in the life of love. There’s a proposal. Flowers that didn’t get sent. A big fat secret that’s finally told. The “I’ll show up and surprise him” that ended up surprising her. Fights, kisses, wrong turns, right moves and more. Whether new to or through with love, you’ll fall in love with this 19-star, funny-side-up celebration of romance.
I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the line those involved with this film felt that they were doing something great and original. The truth is we’ve been inundated with these massive crossover ways of storytelling for some time now. Crash made it incredibly popular and the romantic comedy genre has gotten a few hits of it as well with Paris, je t’aime and New York, I Love You. They’re all the same star-studded spectacles (though perhaps moreso with Valentine’s Day) with criss-crossed plots and exchanges. Hell, even the comic book genre has done it with Sin City–we just may not have noticed this way of storytelling until recently since it’s become so prevalent.
To me it’s always felt like a very slipshod and uneven way to make a film. You’re basically taking a dozen or so characters and throwing them into various and sometimes separate plots; it’s very episodic, but unlike a TV show where we can breathe through each moment we’re forced to swallow them in a very short period of time. In Valentine’s Days case that’s two hours, which sounds like a lot…but not so much when you have nearly ten or so (maybe more, I lost count) plots going at any given time. Quite frankly if this were a cast that wasn’t so well-known and recognizable, I’d honestly have a hard time keeping the characters straight. As-is I simply remembered them as “that celebrity” rather than the actual characters name.
That kind of storytelling certainly has its place, but to me it just shouldn’t be adapted to a film like this. There’s no reason—it’s uneven and there’s no real sense of cohesion between stories other than the occasional similar acquaintance between the plots (or someone from another concurrent storyline overlapping into the background of the current focus) that are occurring on screen. I genuinely am growing tired of this way of storytelling as it very rarely works; when it does it’s exploited, as we see here. I get it though—it’s insanely profitable. The film made its budget back and then tripled it—really hard to vote against a kind of writing when it’s so lucrative. Plus they really timed this film perfectly as it made over half of its domestic intake in that first weekend alone…which is why it’s kind of curious they’re releasing this film on home video now rather than later since May is a rather desolate month for love.
In any case the film itself was slipshod; it played on incredibly cliché elements from romantic comedies that were so predictable I called the outcomes from the start of each little story. I often find myself doing that with other poorly written works (notably the TV show Castle in which case I can peg the villain of the show within 10 seconds of them showing up), but it’s really disheartening when I find myself doing it with a cast like this. I’m sure it was a real delight to work on the set on any given day, but the end product was pure and utter mediocrity.
Overall Valentine’s Day can be wholeheartedly Skipped unless you’re dying to see the latest movie from the Pretty Woman director. And even then this is a far, far cry from the award winning nature of that movie…especially since this is really evident as to what it is (that being a massive pay day for everyone involved).
Warner brings Valentine’s Day to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. Inside is the usual pairing of discs (one Blu-ray, one DVD/Digital Copy combo) and a rather surprising selection of extras. It’s a decent enough package considering you’ll likely be only watching the film once or twice anyway (or three times if you watch all three copies of it that they provide…though I implore you not to if you value your sanity).
Video is surprisingly quite mediocre. The VC-1 encoded transfer never really boasts much facial detail; clothing is often quite impeccable looking, but whenever close-ups occur it seems to have been heavily washed of detail. Perhaps it’s the actors wearing so much wrinkle-reducing makeup that the transfer just comes off as looking as muddy as it does; still, exterior sequences are pretty solid and despite the facial muddiness a fine grain is present over the entire transfer, which I why I dismissed DNR as playing a part. Overall it’s nothing that really offends the senses, but it certainly doesn’t stand out as anything more than simply adequate.
Audio is of a similar nature as there really isn’t much in this DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that will really make you appreciate your surround sound system. There really isn’t any really distortion or anything in the film that will make you hate the audio (although there is an issue with Eric Dane’s character in a particular bit in the movie…but I can’t tell if it was intentional or just bad sound design), but keep in mind it’s all front channel focused so there is little to notice in the surrounds.
The Stars Confess their Valentine’s Day Stories (6:27, 1080p)
Gag Reel (5:47, 1080p)
Deleted Scenes with on-camera intros by Garry Marshall (22:28, 1080p)
“Stay Here Forever” Music Video (3:10, 1080p)
Audio Commentary with director Garry Marshall
The Garry Factor (5:03, 1080p)
Sex and the City 2 Sneak Peek (2:49, 1080p)
Yes…that really is the extras list. Never mind the fact there’s only about forty minutes or so of regular bonus features, but the fact there’s an audio commentary…that genuinely surprised me. I did find it quite a bit more enjoyable about the film as Marshall has a lot of on-set stories to recount which, as I suspected, made the production of this film more entertaining than the actual watching of it. Not a bad package if you’re a Marshall fan, but the remaining extras are pretty fluffy in nature and will only be enjoyed if you actually found the film itself a worthwhile way to spend your time. Worth a Rental.
Valentine’s Day is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.