Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Roses are red, violets are blue…If you’re a cynic or a hopeless romantic, “Valentine’s Day” is just for you

Published: February 12, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

The forecast for this weekend? Well, it appears that love is in the air. Or so the commercial powers that be—you know, the greeting card and chocolate industries that fuel Valentine’s Day—tell us. So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a film chronicling this romantic event?

I know what you’re thinking: this is a bad idea. After all, Valentine’s Day usually means one of two things for most people—warm fuzzy feelings or nausea—both of which are caused by lovesickness of different sorts.

So you’d probably think it’d be impossible for “Valentines’ Day” to satisfy both the single cynics out there and the lovesick lovebirds. But you’d be wrong.

If you’re looking for something to do this Valentine’s Day and would prefer to escape all those loving couples and public displays of affection, “Valentine’s Day” (directed by Garry Marshall) is for you. If you’re one of those lovebirds everyone loves to hate, “Valentine’s Day” is for you too. The fact that it caters to both demographics makes the film work so well.

It’s romantic enough to satisfy the hopeless romantic in you, but it’s also like a candy heart laced with enough cynicism that it manages not to alienate the single viewers in the audience.

Set in Los Angeles, the film centers around a group of lucky and not so lucky in love individuals, and follows them throughout their Valentine’s Day. But as is true in reality, this happiest of all days is actually a major source of stress and disillusionment for many single people and, ironically, many a happy couple. In fact, the film reinforces the belief that hyping Valentine’s Day up to be something it isn’t only sets people up for failure and heartbreak.

The film’s plot—wrapped around the florist business of Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher)—connects the majority of its characters just as ribbons tie together his flower bouquets. It’s an interesting tactic because, as the viewer sees, florists can get to know a lot—sometimes more than they need or want to know—about people’s lives simply from the flowers they purchase and to whom they’re sending them. There are the loving elderly husbands who come in to get their wives their usual bouquets; the sweet little kids who want to buy their crushes something romantic but can’t afford the steeply priced roses (or reach the counter); and the cheating jerks who come in to place orders of roses for both their wives and mistresses. “Valentine’s Day” has all of that.

“Valentine’s Day” depicts love across varying generational lines, ranging from fifth grader Edison’s (Bryce Robinson) sweet crush on his teacher Julia (Jennifer Garner); to high school sweethearts Willy (Taylor Lautner) and Felicia’s (Taylor Swift) seemingly superficial mutual attraction; to newly engaged Reed (Kutcher) and Morley (Jessica Alba); to elderly couple Edgar (Hector Elizondo) and Estelle’s (Shirley MacLaine) enduring love. There’s also the depiction of a lack of love, as seen through the eyes of the film’s pessimistic singles.

As “Valentine’s Day” shows, one’s opinion of the holiday varies depending on one’s romantic status, and the film nails the wide range of sentiments by giving them each equal importance. For a film that includes a large number of stars—the star power packed into the preview alone is, admittedly, a bit overwhelming—this is no small feat. Yet, rather than concentrating on a few key characters while neglecting the others, the film’s diverse representation of love just seems to work.

There’s the cynical career woman type—personified in the form of Kara (Jessica Biel)—who scorns Valentine’s Day because of its seeming intention to make singles feel even more alone. Kara hates Valentine’s Day so much that she actually hosts an anti-Valentine’s Day party each year.

Then there are the lucky in love high school sweethearts—Felicia and Willy—whose view on love is somewhat idealistic and superficial. A broadcast reporter’s line in the film sums it up quite nicely when he says “Young love: full of promise, full of hope, ignorant of reality.”

Yet instead of oversimplifying or exaggerating the characters, the film’s stars are all so relatable and real that the humor shines through. Everyone can relate to loving or hating Valentine’s Day at one point in their lives, and being able to laugh at other’s—and your own—pathetic moments and romantic entanglements makes the film work. After all, sometimes imperfection is better than perfection.

Overall, the film mixes romance with humor and reality in a way that leaves viewers wanting more. Who knows, maybe if there were more films like “Valentine’s Day,” romantic comedies wouldn’t get such a bad rep!

Valentine’s Day opens in theaters Friday Feb. 12.