REVIEW: Valentine’s Day

6 07 2010

As much as I wanted to say that all these stars couldn’t save a movie, I can’t. Much to my surprise, “Valentine’s Day” was a relatively charming and very entertaining look at just about every kind of love that might exist. And given the day it is set on, all the love stories are as pumped up on steroids as the size of the cast.

The line-up is like a romantic comedy all-star team, and to top it off, they’ve even peppered in some serious actors. Oscar winners Kathy Bates, Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts (who falls into the rom-com category as well), and Shirley MacLaine all make appearances. “Grey’s Anatomy” fans can rejoice at getting McDreamy AND McSteamy together outside of Seattle Grace hospital. Teen idols for both boys and girls are represented through Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner. In case you had any doubt, you can find at least one star to make your valentine in the cast.

And there’s every kind of love story you can imagine. The movie rounds all the bases and covers all the definitions of the L word that keeps the world spinning. There’s young love and old love, pure love and cheating love, parental love and physical love.  And of course, because you can’t have love without it, there’s heartbreak.

Now, just because it tells all these stories doesn’t mean that they are all told well.  There are plenty that are just plain boring to watch or so horrifyingly predictable that the movie would have done well to shuck it and lose a few minutes off a pretty bloated running time.  At over two hours, it’s a marathon romantic comedy.  You can feel the fatigue starting to set in as it crosses the hour mark, dragging along under the weight of too many characters and storylines.  Most are wrapped up with class, albeit in a fairly typical and predictable fashion.  Be sure to stay tuned until the very end because there are some nice and touching twists up its sleeve.  Turning it off would be a big mistake.  Huge.  B /





What To Look Forward To in … February 2010

7 01 2010

We’re still in some hazy territory in the month of February, but the new decade looks to give this month some much needed energy.  Fueled by two movies originally scheduled for release in 2009, I might actually drop a good amount of change at the movies in February (not just on repeat viewings of Oscar nominees).

February 5

Put “The Notebook” in front of anything and you are guaranteed a flock of screaming girls coming with boyfriends in tow.  Put wildly popular model/actor Channing Tatum in the poster and you can add some more girls aside from the hopeless romantics.  “Dear John” has just that: a super sweet story from author Nicholas Sparks and girl eye candy Tatum.  Thankfully for the guys, the filmmakers cast Amanda Seyfried (“Jennifer’s Body”), who isn’t so bad on the eyes either.

I’m a little weary to endorse “From Paris with Love,” another John Travolta villain movie.  He’s only good at playing subtle ones (“Pulp Fiction”) with the exception of “Face/Off.”  2009’s “The Taking of Pelham 123” was a disaster mainly because of Travolta and his villainy established only by constantly dropping the F-bomb.  Potential redemption here?  I’ll need positive word of mouth before I watch Travolta go evil again.

February 12

“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is the name given to the film adaptation of Rick Riordan’s kids novel “The Lightning Thief.” Clearly Fox is setting up a franchise with the title, and they picked the right place to stake the claim. I read the book in seventh grade, and it is the real deal. I even got a chance to have lunch with the author, Riordan, who is one of the neatest people I have ever met. Whether they ruin it or not is yet to be known, but the movie is being helmed by Chris Columbus, the man who got the “Harry Potter” series flying. That has to count for something.

If Pierce Brosnan isn’t a big enough star to draw you to the aforementioned movie, you should find solace in “Valentine’s Day,” which features just about every romantic comedy actor ever. Literally, I can’t even list all of the stars of the movie here. The post would just be too darn big. Garry Marshall, director of “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries,” is in charge here, so I find some comfort in that. But if the movie flops, this will be a high-profile disappointment.

Sorry girls, the werewolf in “The Wolfman” is not played by Taylor Lautner. Academy Award-winning actor Benicio del Toro metamorphasizes in Victorian England into the hairy beast when the moon is ripe.  This werewolf is not based on cheeky teen lit but on the 1941 horror classic.  And this adaptation is rated R for “bloody horror violence and gore.”  Get ready for some intense clawing.

A big winner at Cannes and a contender for the Best Foreign Film at this year’s Academy Awards, “A Prophet” is a foreign film that may be worth a look.

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