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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    All-star cast only enhances ‘Valentine’s Day’

    Valentine’s Day

    To be released Feb. 12, 2010

    Rated PG-13

    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Score: A-


    With a cast full of names like Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah and Julia Roberts alongside the phrase “”she said yes”” and the prevalence of the color pink, “”Valentine’s Day”” was poised to disappoint. There’s nothing wrong with a chick flick or a pretty list of credits, but “”The Notebook”” has already been done and jam-packed all-star casts have floundered before. Remember “”He’s Just Not That Into You””?

    Well. If other such movies have floundered, “”Valentine’s Day”” dives — not just into the heart of the holiday but of humanity, too. The film transcends the inevitable cheesiness of its genre and sinks into a rhythmic, “”Crash””-like succession of intertwining stories that, thanks to the host of familiar faces, remains lucid and easy to follow.

    Even the appearance McDreamy and McSteamy (Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane of “”Grey’s Anatomy,”” respectively) juxtaposed with Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) and driver Joe (Héctor Elizondo) of “”The Princess Diaries”” seems natural as a movie mash-up, likely due to the success of the casting effort. This enables the movie to proceed, but the cast doesn’t carry it; that job is left to the script.

    The many subplots wind their way through the film, following a media thread. Though many elements notably recur throughout — think flowers and the poetry of e.e. cummings and Rumi — radio and television are the vehicles that carry the connections. This detail, perfect for the Los Angeles setting, meshes harmoniously with the peppering of iPhone text rings. Allusions to phone sex modernize the romantic comedy and enforce specific parameters of time and space upon the love (and un-love) stories — a necessary feat.

    Perhaps it is due to this modernization, along with the spot-on humor, that the film gets away with the Valentine’s Day equivalent of murder — flower shops, love stories, planes, chocolates and bridges — and still evades the ever-dreaded title of chick flick.

    The quirky relationships — and perhaps the fact that the actors’ faces allude to movies past — keeps the viewer’s interest. This and the success of tricky crude and sexual humor deliver the film from its reliance on stereotypical love quandaries like, “”Do I kiss my best friend?”” and from Taylor Swift’s awful performance as a ditzy high schooler that, at several moments, threatens to bring the whole movie down.

    But whenever the film gets close to the edge — whether of seriousness, satire, raunchiness or failure — it again manages to surprise. It is more on the scale of a lifetime love restored than of a giant teddy bear at a doorstep that “”Valentine’s Day”” surprises, exploring the ins and outs of hearts in love without ever skipping a beat.

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