Valentine’s Day (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 117 minutes,
Not for children.
This movie is getting
roasted by critics, with a 16% rating on Rottentomatoes as of this
writing. So it’s appropriate to set forth my expectations going in,
which were low. I’ve not been an admirer of the talents of Jennifer
Garner or Anne Hathaway. I’m really not too fond of ensemble casts of
stars. And, although Garry Marshall has directed some pretty funny
movies, like “Overboard” (1987), and at least one that rose above the
norm in lots of people’s minds, “Pretty Woman” (1990), he’s also been
involved with some turkeys like “Princess Diaries 2, Royal Engagement”
(2004). So I was expecting dreck.
But Marshall has a nice
touch here. For one thing, he loads the film with terrific shots of Los
Angeles. The locations include Marina del Rey, the Hollywood Freeway,
the fountain at Wilshire & Santa Monica Blvds. in Beverly Hills, the
Venice Canals, and the Hollywood sign, among many others.
In addition to Garner and
Hathaway, the cast also includes Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace, both
of whom live up to the potential they have shown in the past. So for me
to say that two of the best things about this movie are Garner and
Hathaway, I’m not damning with faint praise. Both give rewarding
performances, Garner as a woman in love with a creep, Patrick Dempsey,
who keeps his happy marriage a secret from Garner, and Hathaway, who
plays a receptionist doubling as a phone sex operator. She falls for
Grace, but even when she’s out on a date with the clueless Grace, the
phone keeps ringing…
The cast is a who’s who of
Hollywood including, in addition to the foregoing, Shirley McLaine,
Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Jessica Biel, Kathy Bates, Bradley Cooper,
Taylor Swift, George Lopez, and Julia Roberts. In one way or another,
all are involved in some sort of love relationship.
There are a few plot holes,
but one that shouted out at me was when two people are listening to
“Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN radio as they are driving along
in their car with the sun shining brightly. Unfortunately, “Mike and
Mike” is on from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. in Los Angeles.
One puzzling aspect of the
movie is that it contains a love relationship between two gay men. In
the Elizabethan era, men played the roles of women because women were
forbidden to appear onstage. When that taboo was lifted, men ceased
playing women. Hollywood does not cast white actors to play black
people, or vice-versa. No longer does it cast Caucasians to play Asians,
like it did when Warner Oland and Sidney Toler played Charlie Chan and
Peter Lorre played Mr. Moto in the ‘30s and ‘40s.
However, recent movies have
cast men who have a reputation of being heterosexual in real life to
play gay roles. In this film, the actors portraying the gay men are,
from all we know, heterosexual. But in today’s enlightened and
politically correct Hollywood, there is an abundance of gay actors.
Nobody could ever accuse Hollywood of being anti-gay, so If Hollywood
wants to portray a gay relationship, why doesn’t it cast gay actors to
portray those parts? Why don’t the gay pressure groups speak up? Asian
pressure groups raised such a ruckus about Charlie Chan that the films
were effectively blacklisted from TV for years. Why isn’t there the same
sort of ruckus about heterosexual men playing gay parts? Perish the
thought, but could there be a political agenda at work here? Of course,
the actors who are playing these gay parts could actually be gay, in
which case these last two paragraphs could be considered inoperative;
Agenda or no, this might be
a trifle, but it's an entertaining trifle.