Saturday, February 6, 2010

This Valentine's Day, I'd Rather Rent (500) Days of Summer...

I hate Valentine's Day. Almost as much as I hate Thanksgiving. It's not that I'm bitter because I'm single; I just feel like when you love someone you should show that emotion year-round, not just on the one day Hallmark decides to remind you! But I'm not just talking about the holiday here anyway; I also hate Valentine's Day the movie. If I see one more commercial for the movie, I'm going to drive down to producer Garry Marshall's theater and knock on his head just to see if there's anything in there. It seems as he has gotten older, his creativity has dissipated along with his hair.

Okay, okay, I admit I haven't seen Valentine's Day yet. Nor will I. Unless it streams on Netflix. And it's not even the concept of intertwining couples and relationships that irks me. After all, I loved such a thing when it was originally done and called Love, Actually. My problem lies in the fact that this particular movie has become such a spectacle. Everything about it screams spectacle over substance. After all, look at its marketing scheme: the studio is spending millions of dollars on posters, trailers, and TV spots to tell you who's in the movie but not what it's really about past all the pretty people who are in various stages in their respective on-screen relationships.

And let's consider said stars, shall we? They are a Who's Who of 'It' Hollywood today, not timeless and classic talents. If this movie had come out five years earlier Bradley Cooper and Jessica Alba would be nowhere near the cast list. And Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift? Well, they still shouldn't be on the cast list! They're barely actors at all!

The script for Valentine's Day features characters that seem they'll have heart and depth: an Iraq soldier on leave, a phone sex worker by day who is a romantic by night, and a recently-jilted woman who provides much of the comedic relief. These roles are played by Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, and Jennifer Garner, respectively. Especially in the case of Roberts, her image lends itself so poorly to such a role that I literally did the "Say what now?" neck roll while reading of her casting in such a part. Will their star power take the audience out of the moment? Certainly. Would the characters have been better suited being played by lesser known actors, perhaps told in the independent film style that allows story to speak for itself? Probably. But then again, with so few details about the actual story available this close to the film's release, it appears that the script itself might be a little thin, relying only on the name talent that would inevitably be attached to bring in the crowds. After all, Marshall has a Rolodex full of Hollywood's elite, and seeing as how he's at an age now where every picture could be his last, he has pulled them all out for Valentine's Day.

The trailer capitalizes on the 'it' mainstream pop music of the minute, too, utilizing the Black Eyed Peas just like every other commercial product out today. It's just too Saccharin, too forced, and too busy. Hell, even the website for the movie is so full of gimmicky excess it makes my eyes burn. Want to be a 'fan' of the movie on Facebook? Even before seeing it? You can! Want to create your own Valentine's e-cards featuring actors from the movie? Go right ahead! Want to read a synopsis of the plot? It's right there-- oh wait, if by synopsis, you mean summary of the cast and what they have been previously known for, then it's there for you to read. If you actually want to know who the characters are and what they'll encounter in the film, you'll have to wait until opening day and shell out your ten to twelve bucks.

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