How you feel about this unashamedly mushy concoction largely depends on your reaction to Valentine’s Day itself.
If you’ve a coal-black, cynical little heart with an aversion to rampant sentimentality and commercialism then this is torture. Perky, peppy, cash-in torture. The cinematic equivalent to a basket of kittens wearing bows. But for anyone who adores heart-shaped tat and the cashmere idea of romance, you’ll get adequate star bang for your buck.
Like Short Cuts dipped in sugar, covered in cream with a cherry on top, an LA day rolls out through interconnecting stories. Anchored by the early morning proposal of florist Reed (Ashton Kutcher, displaying all the emotional depth and range of a puddle) to his career-woman chick (Jessica Alba), we meet his best friend (Jennifer Garner) – a teacher in love with a ratbag (Patrick Dempsey).
There’s also a phone-sex girl (Anne Hathaway) dating a mailboy (Topher Grace); a pair of married old biddies (Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo); two passengers on a plane (Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper) and in a Love, Actually steal, an eight-year-old boy with a big crush. Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Eric Dane, Kathy Bates, Queen Latifah, Emma Roberts and Taylors Lautner and Swift are also dealing with affairs of the heart. Before the day is out there’ll be break-ups, public declarations, paybacks and plenty of greeting-card sentiment...
Director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries) may have star pulling power but his comedy nous is failing: the end-title outtakes supply the biggest laughs.
Doing the best with the slim material are Roberts and Cooper, whose ambiguous, flirty in-flight tale packs the most emotional punch; while the two Taylors are beguilingly daft and cute as buttons. But with most LA landmarks getting screen time, this is as much a love letter to the City Of Angels as it is to Cupid.
Ultra-sweet, safe and sporadically heartwarming, this never makes the most of its cast but will no doubt be bulletproof at the box office. Coal-black hearts, you’ve been warned…
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