Monday, March 15, 2010

Embarrassing Movie Wednesdays: Valentine's Day

Yes, it took us three weeks to see a movie that seemingly nobody wanted to see in the first place. But Tara and I are dedicated! Dedicated to the concept of Embarrassing Movie Wednesdays, and even more dedicated to romantic comedies jam-packed with actors we maybe like more than most people do.

NO, not Jessica Alba! Jesus. We have standards. But certain people ... look, the idea of Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher playing star-crossed best friends who take the entire course of the movie to realize what they really want is to be with each other wouldn't appeal to everybody. Clearly. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's not the least appealing storyline I've ever heard.

Of course, with the thousand or so characters on the canvass, the majority of them fell short of the Garner/Kutcher standard. I could not have given less of a shit about Jessica Biel's cliched "working girl who can't make it happen romantically," and adding Jamie Foxx to the mix was always going to be a non-starter. The movie itself didn't even care about half these people, given the utter indifference shown to Jessica Alba and Emma Roberts's characters. Not to mention how the film seems to be apologizing for Taylors Swift and Lautner even as they're getting tween-friendly screen time.

Sidebar, though? What was up with all the unresolved lesbian tension? Maybe that's just a natural byproduct of having Queen Latifah and Kathy Bates in the same movie, each one conspicuously unattached. But add to that Julia Roberts's ill-fitting (but butch!) turn as a soldier returning home from the Mid-East. Or the fact that Biel's character sparked more in half a scene with Garner than in a whole movie with Foxx. Maybe I was just looking for SOMETHING satisfyingly homo to combat the blue balls of knowing Bradley Cooper and Eric Dane were playing a gay couple, only to have to wait for that fact to be used as an end-of-the-movie "reveal" of ultimately no consequence.

But I think a big part of the reason for my non-hating of Valentine's Day is the rock-bottom expectations I went into the theater with. I hadn't heard ONE person who didn't loathe the movie, and those are the people who deigned to see it in the first place. So I was expecting something offensively awful. What I got was something generally bland with occasional pockets of charming actors doing yeoman's work to make a scene or a character or a line work a little bit.

Obviously, if you're not as fond of Anne Hathaway and Shirley MacLaine and Jennifer Garner and Topher Grace, the movie sucks even harder. It's true, the one truly funny moment was the unintentional laugh I got watching Taylor Swift run (picture Phoebe on Friends). But even among the EMW movies we've seen this year, I enjoyed this better than Leap Year. Leap Year didn't deliver Shirley MacLaine in a sparkly red pantsuit with matching giant shawl.

So the movie is a C- rather than a D-. Not exactly reason for celebration, but not the worst thing in the world either. But on the embarrassing scale, given how toxically this went over with the critics, the public, and the gods, the EMW rating has to be pretty high. A sparkly shawl and lesbian tension can only get you so far.

Previously in the Embarassing Movie Series: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Obsessed, 17 Again, The Hannah Montana Movie, Monsters vs. Aliens, Fired Up!; Fighting


Jude said...

You're Phoebe Buffay reference made my day!

Patty M. said...

And I'm embarrassed to admit this, but the exchange in the flower shop between the token adorable moppet and Ashton Kucher made me grin like an idiot. That's some good pandering!