Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Valentine's Day

Film #229


Intertwining couples and singles in Los Angeles break-up and make-up based on the pressures and expectations of Valentine’s Day.

Year 1, Day 229

BEFORE: After my longest hiatus yet, movie marathon is picking things back up and getting back on a daily schedule. In case you didn’t know, today is Valentine’s Day (the reason this two week chain has been focused on romance) and in honor of the occasion I’m watching the aptly titled Valentine’s Day.

AFTER: It seems that one of the new trends in Hollywood is to make a film with large ensemble casts where the biggest draw is not the story, but the names attached to the project. While I would like something more in a film than just the stars, I’m also not totally opposed to the idea either. However, wasn’t able to use its talent effectively because that little thing called the story got in the way.

Let’s start off with some positives though. This film does one thing well and that is entertainment. As I’ll get into more in the negatives, the film is a bunch of interweaving story lines, each of which acting like mini vignettes on a character or two. Looking at these individually, almost as a bunch of short films with some connection, it can be quite enjoyable. Laughs were sparse but they were there nonetheless and the were also a few emotional scenes scattered about (mostly at the end). In other words, Valentine’s Day had a lot of the components to a good film but they weren’t combined well.

And the reason for that is the structure. While not exactly similar, Valentine’s Day reminded me a lot of the structure of Crash for which I wrote:

Crash also succeeds at story as well. It’s very difficult to make interweaving narratives work. Most of the time, it feels disjointed and unfulfilled at the end when all the individual stories come together.

This is an example of a film feeling disjointed and unfulfilled. Some of the characters/their stories didn’t make much sense to begin with, most notably the Taylor Swift/Taylor Lautner romance, Queen Latifah, and Kathy Bates (for character names check the IMDb page; I just identified these characters as their real names throughout the film). I’m calling these characters out because the relationships they had, or the roles they played in another’s relationship, was extremely minor and had me questioning their inclusion. They served almost no purpose and because of that, their inclusion just made the film more confusing and hard to follow because there’s just more stuff you have to pay attention to. Some conflicting examples, for me anyway, are the characters played by Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, and Eric Dane. Out of all the stories, these characters probably had the best and most satisfying endings, but until the end, they also were part of my “Huh?” list. This was more because of the ambiguity surrounding their stories rather than the stories themselves (see: the ending), but either way, the majority of the time I was left puzzled which is not good.

Valentine’s Day was not my favorite of this romance chain, but at the same time it wasn’t the worst. Based on my review it may seem that my annoyances with the film far outweighed my praises, but in reality I think it was more balanced. The entertainment out of these little vignettes was good enough that it could counter, slightly, the poor combination/connections between them. When thinking about what movie to watch on Valentine’s Day next year, I would recommend one of the others in this chain like Crazy, Stupid, Love. or When Harry Met Sally…, but if this is the only film that happens to be one, it won’t be the worst thing in the world.

And on that note, I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day.

RATING: 3 out of 5