February 12, 2010 in Features

Cast of stars is not enough to love ‘Valentine’s Day’

Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel
Warner Bros. photo

Jessica Biel and Eric Dane are shown in a scene from the star-studded “Valentine’s Day.” Warner Bros.
(Full-size photo)

Garry Marshall emptied his Facebook for “Valentine’s Day,” overstuffing this overlong ode to love with Oscar winners, up-and-comers and top Internet bikini searches.

It’s an American “Love Actually” without the warmth and the wit – and without much love, actually.

A chaotic cluster of interconnected characters court, collide and crack up in Los Angeles in this “Crash”-for-chocoholics.

Ashton Kutcher plays a florist who proposes to his “too good” for him girlfriend (Jessica Alba). He spends the day mooning over her to his employee (George Lopez) and his best friend (Jennifer Garner).

The best friend is all gooey-eyed for her Valentine, a heart surgeon (Patrick Dempsey) who is always out of town on business and can’t walk by fruit without picking it up and juggling it.

Jessica Biel plays a publicist who throws “I Hate Valentine’s Day” parties and Jamie Foxx is a cynical TV sports reporter sent out to gather “What Valentine’s Day means to you” thoughts from Angelenos.

“Love is the only shocking act left on the planet,” the florist tells him.

Queen Latifah is an agent whose new assistant (Anne Hathaway, having the time of her life) doubles as a phone sex operator who services clients with a dazzling array of accents. Topher Grace is the new man in her life who doesn’t know how she pays the bills.

On a plane, Julia Roberts is a soldier headed home on one-day leave, with Bradley Cooper as her handsome and too-curious seatmate. Long-married grandparents (Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo) are raising their young grandson, who deals with his first crush with the help of a teen nanny (Emma Roberts), who plans to lose her virginity to her beau on that romantic day.

Few of this crowded cast (I’ve left many out) make much of an impression. The laughs are thin and might have been bigger had this film emphasized the crankier characters overcoming their cynicism, maybe retitling this “I Hate Valentine’s Day.”

But that title’s been taken by an earlier botched romance set on a day that never seems to host a decent Hollywood romantic comedy.

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