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VALENTINE'S DAY

SYNOPSIS:
Romance and heartbreak are intertwined during one Valentine's Day in Los Angeles. Flower shop owner Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) , a romantic at heart, is about to propose to his girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba). Reed's best friend Julia (Jennifer Garner) has a new man in her life Dr Harrison Copeland (Patrick Dempsey), while talent agent in training Josh Morris (Topher Grace) has just met the receptionist Liz (Anne Hathaway), who moonlights on a phone sex line. Ten year old Edison (Bryce Robinson) from one of Julia's classes, wants to send flowers to his Valentine; his grandparents Estelle (Shirley MacLaine) and Edgar (Hector Elizondo) have been together a lifetime but even after 50 years, there are surprises.

Review by Louise Keller:
A perfect date movie with more stars than script appeal, Valentine's Day reminds us that the gift of love means different things to different people. While Katherine Fugate's script is similarly structured to Richard Curtis' Love Actually, comprising many characters whose various story strands are connected in some way, the emotional experience is not nearly as satisfying. As Kathy Bates' television executive tells her Number 2 Sports Reporter (Jamie Foxx) 'The station wants more fluff,' the film delivers on a similar level. Director Gary Marshall has assembled a wonderful star cast with whom we experience a proposal, a break-up, a naked songwriter's offering, a two-timing Lothario, phone sex, a little boy's first infatuation, a wedding and an I Hate Valentine's Day dinner.

The narrative centres on the activities of Ashton Kutcher's Reed Bennett, who runs a busy LA flower shop and is madly in love with Jessica Alba's Morley. His best friend Julia (Jennifer Garner) has always been there for him but now has plenty to occupy her mind (and heart) since she started dating handsome heart surgeon Harrison Copeland (Patrick Dempsey) who is adept at juggling more than fruit. Needless to say, everything is a play on hearts, with heart-shaped flowers, wind up plastic hearts and broken hearts eager for revenge.

Jennifer Garner forms the heartbeat of the film (she is every bit like sunshine, as her character demands); it is her story with which we engage most readily. Anne Hathaway is also terrific as Liz, whose moonlighting Naughty Nymphos phone activities is kept secret from her new beau (Topher Grace). There is a convoluted storyline involving football star Sean Jackson (Eric Dane), his chocolate-loving PR consultant (Jessica Biel, lovely) and Queen Latifah's bi-polar talent agent Paula ... plus Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo's devoted married couple, who understand that love cannot be planned and when sometimes truth makes everything else a lie.

It's contrived and predictable, although there are a couple of surprises involving Bradley Cooper's Holden and Julia Roberts' off-duty soldier. (Wait for the Pretty Woman line when Cooper tells his driver to take Roberts anywhere she wants to go.) Fugate's script should have been chopped - valentines, hearts and flowers can outstay their welcome, but for those who are easy to please and looking for a non-demanding ode to love that is as sweet as the candy, they won't be disappointed.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

VALENTINE'S DAY (PG)
(US, 2010)

CAST: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah

PRODUCER: Mike Karz, Wayne Allan Rice, Josie Rosen

DIRECTOR: Garry Marshall

SCRIPT: Katherine Fugate

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Charles Minsky

EDITOR: Bruce Green

MUSIC: John Debney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Albert Brenner

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 11, 2010







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