Valentine’s Day is 2010’s mish mash of pop culture stars, focusing on the happenings of the most commercialized romantic day of the year: Valentine’s Day. The film’s narrative shifts constantly, covering everything from an engaged couple to a football star to two people’s interactions on an airplane all on the day that commemorates all things lovely. Nearly each character’s story is somehow intertwined giving us the feel that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, 21 Grams) often likes to torture us with, only this time all the cross editing is used to bring us a romantic comedy. This technique is not really necessary and it feels like director Gary Marshall uses it as a gimmick to bring all these stars together more than anything.
The idea of throwing in so many characters and plotlines is something that both helps and hurts the film. The film never really fully allows any of its (many) storylines to develop. In a way this is a breath of fresh air, because if a full hour and a half was spent with these characters (as in a normal rom-com) the plot would be stretched so thin that it would make for a terrible movie. Leaving us with character arcs that only last for about ten minutes prevents us from seeing just how shallowly written these characters are. It never really gives us enough time to hate it, because the story is constantly changing. On the other hand, there is never enough time to truly invest ourselves into the characters like any great film allows us to do, so if Valentine’s Day ever hoped to be something great, it would have no chance to; but, I don’t believe this is what Marshall and company were striving for.
I do not really want to critique the film when it comes to its message or what it tries to push across morally, but I feel I can’t fully write about it unless I mention something. It seems to push an agenda where love and sex and relationships are easy. Where falling in and out of love can happen in an instant and broken hearts heal in a matter of minutes. This is showcased when nearly every conflict in the film comes to a happy ending and all is good and well. There have been very few films that I have ever seen where we see an honest relationship that portrays both the good and bad over a long term period. Last year we had Blue Valentine and Everyone Else which both wonderfully showed the ending of relationships, but neither showed the success and beauty that is possible when using love to work through trials. You can watch any rom-com and see portrayals of relationship success overcoming the shallowest of conflicts, but nothing that really hits too deep. Valentine’s Day is one that though it shows such a huge variety of relationships, none of them hit a deeper chord (except for maybe the older couple). It never, other than a few comments, makes a statement about Valentine’s Day, and seems to use its star power just to sell tickets but overall, it’s not a bad watch.