Monday, May 24, 2010

The drama, angst, anxiety and ambivalence caused by February 14th........





With about 25 highly recognizable names and interconnected story lines that orbit an upcoming holiday, "Valentine's Day" has been compared mostly negatively to 2003's "Love Actually".   "Love Actually" starred just about every British actor/actress I would expect average American movie goers to easily recognize, took place during the weeks before Christmas and chronicled the loves and losses of a group of Londoners. "Valentine's Day" is set in L.A. and you get the feeling of different "types" all bumping up against each other  (in cute ways of course, no "Crash" like edginess simmering in this large multi-ethnic L.A.).  The most outright accusation I can make of ripping off "Love Actually" is the presence of an overly serious adult like child who is struggling to express his feelings to a first love. He has the absent mother too and all of the cute bells and whistles that are expected. Not to antagonize a child actor, but I did find Thomas Sangster in "Love Actually" cuter and just a tad bit more precocious without going overboard. Most of the individual stories in "Valentine's Day" are fairly predictable. For example we have a "running through the airport" scene which I would love one day to see played out with the character tasered, facing charges and on a nefarious no fly list.  With that said, there are some charms. Anne Hathaway as a young woman juggling a temp job, a new boyfriend and a secret live as a phone sex operator made me laugh out loud a few times but I was a bit disappointed that the boyfriend (Topher Grace) immediately wanted to break up with her when he found out about the phone sex job. I can't be the only person who would think that was titillating and let's be honest, cool.  My final estimation is that if you are ever faced with just these two choices on movie night,  choose "Love Actually".  Now that will probably never happen; so rent "Love Actually" and wait for "Valentine's Day" to show up on cable. One more thing (spoiler alert), despite what the trailer may show, Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts' characters are not hooking up.......

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