Valentine’s Day (Blu-ray)
As the opening scenes unfolded in Garry Marshall’s hodgepodge romantic comedy VALENTINE’S DAY, I couldn’t help but think we were in for a long two hours. Whether it be the overly sappy Kutcher-Alba proposal or his quick speech on how wonderful Valentine’s Day is, everything felt contrived and insincere. But as the other stories began to unravel, I found myself enjoying the different takes on love and appreciating Marshall’s patented what-you-see-is-what-you-get way of making movies. There’s no deeper meaning to this film, but the characters are interesting and the stories are fun, thus making for a nice romantic comedy.
There are several things going on, but the film revolves around Reed Bennet (Kutcher), a flower shop owner that’s running his shop on Valentine’s Day and dealing with the drama in his relationship with Morley (Jessica Alba). Along the way, we meet up with several different couples, all played with an all-star cast and each couple representing a type of relationship that’s proven to be common in today’s world. There’s the cheater and the gullible woman that falls for him. We have the people that resist love or fail miserably at finding it. We have the homosexual couple with one partner uncomfortable with his sexuality. There’s the old couple that’s still learning about each other. Then we have the cute, young couple dealing with sex and the pressures it brings. Finally, we have the twenty-something couple with one partner that has to accept a flaw of the other. All of these stories are intertwined so they have something or someone in common and all of the result is an efficiently paced film.
Normally, I’d be frustrated that each story lacks depth to it and that the entire purpose of the couples can be summed up efficiently in one sentence. But in VALENTINE’S DAY, it actually works. Most of that credit should go to the A-list cast that managed to add depth to the characters that wasn’t there. But when the camera was on Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Topher Grace or Anne Hathaway, the audience was interested and ultimately ended up invested into the characters. As with all ensemble films, you’ll have the relationships you liked (Topher and Anne were tops for me) and the characters you felt were a waste (Jessica Biel served no purpose). But ultimately, the combination of all the stories and the resolution to their problems is what makes or breaks an ensemble film. In this case, the characters were tied together nicely and everyone had their problems resolved, Hollywood-style.
It would be easy to take shots at VALENTINE’S DAY for being a superficial, sappy rom-com that just combined various other rom-coms into one film. Although I agree with that to an extent, but the execution of the film was top-notch and with a great cast and an experienced director, I found the film to be enjoyable. Decent rom-coms are hard to come by these days, so it’s nice to have Garry Marshall back in the genre.
Video: This is a bit of a soft transfer from New Line/Warner Brothers, which is a surprise given the success of the film and the recent success from the studio. But I found the colors to be a bit flat and it lacked the “pop” I’ve grown accustomed to with Blu-rays.
Audio: It’s kind of the same story with the audio as everything felt subdued. This is a dialogue-heavy film and the dialogue failed to come through crisp and clear. It wasn’t a horrible audio track, but I expected more from the DTS-HD audio.
Commentary with Garry Marshall: Garry’s commentary from PRETTY WOMAN is one of the better single participant commentaries out there, so I was looking forward to his track on VALENTINE’S DAY. He doesn’t match the interest level of PRETTY WOMAN, but he offers enough tidbits and behind the scenes insight that make it worth the listen. He also gives great details about the actual filming of the movie and explains certain shots. This is a good track, even if you’re not a huge fan of the film.
The Stars Confess Their Valentine’s Day Stories (6:28): This is a bit of a fluff piece with various stars sitting down and talking about V-day and sharing some stories. Most of these are rehearsed and none are very interesting.
The Garry Factor (5:03): We usually get one of these featurettes whenever a famous director is involved. The cast and crew sit down and talk about how great Garry Marshall is. Not really worth the time.
Blooper Reel (5:47): The cast members flub their lines and then laugh about it. This was a decent blooper reel only because it featured so many great actors and had at least a little variety to it.
Deleted Scenes (22:28): I had heard that almost all of Taylor Swift’s scenes were cut because of how atrocious she was in the film (she really was bad), but if that’s true, they didn’t all show up here. I didn’t see anything here that furthered the story or changed the film, most seemed to have been cut for pacing issues.
There are also some Previews and a Music Video