Valentine's Day (Movie)

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: A favourable review. More or less.

The Long Version: For me, this is a very odd review to write, so there's a bit of a back story that I need to share. I usually have a real problem with this genre of movie, and I don't mean 'chick flick' - I have a hard time with any movie with a large ensemble cast. If there's such a thing as an anti-photographic memory, I have one; I'm especially bad at remembering faces and recognizing people. Women in movies and on TV is a particularly weak point for me, since there's so little variety in what seems to pass for beauty these days. For example, I'm hopeless at watching that television masterpiece "The Bachelor." There are either too many people running around for me to keep track of any of them, or the selection process has reduced the crowd to only five or fifteen interchangeably tall, skinny women with a particular hair colour that he's formed some spiritual connection with. Rubbish - but I digress.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, with only a few slips, I was able to follow the plot of Valentine's Day. And I'm being neither snarky nor sarcastic here - while I wouldn't recognize Taylor Swift or Jessica Biel if I saw them in another movie, and couldn't identify them in a police lineup, the cast had a healthy range and used enough individual environments that I could usually keep track of who was who. It also helped that the movie looked a bit like a collision between Grey's Anatomy and Alias; and of course even I recognize Julia Roberts. I've known who Queen Latifah is since she remixed Bowie's Fame, and there was the guy from the Nikon ads, so I actually did pretty well at following the action.

There's really not a whole lot to keep track of in terms of the plot: it's a day in the life of a handful of people with some tenuous connections that I was mostly able to put together. Some break up, some hook up - and some do both - while others stay as they are. It's entertainment rather than art, and it's light, fun, and generally upbeat. 'Fluff' isn't a bad thing; if I wanted mean and nasty, I'd watch reality TV. I'd rather choose to include happy things in my life, especially when I'm out on a date. And while I think 90% of movies are too long, I wouldn't have minded if this one took another ten or fifteen minutes to play out a bit more.

When I watch a movie or TV series, I pay attention to the first shot. It's an interesting distraction - with all of the editing decisions to be made, what gets chosen for the first impression? In this case, what struck me is the opening song. "Say Hey (I Love You)" is by Michael Franti & Spearhead, which is a great upbeat number that's been a favourite of mine since the album 'All Rebel Rockers' came out. It set the tone for the movie, and may account for some of my fondness for the show. If I'm ever in the mood for something simple to rent for a lazy afternoon, it's one I might actually be able to watch again.

... and this concludes the example of why I rarely review anything from popular culture. The regular postings about camera gear and subway stations will resume shortly.


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