I hope you had a great Valentine's Day. I do hope you got to spend some quality time with your spouse, friend, loved ones, had a good lazy Sunday, and did all fun things - except watch Valentine's Day, the film. If you did, hey, that's just what the doctor ordered. Because if you decide to go watch this film, I can guarantee whatever day it is, it'll be ruined.
In a usual stupid factory-produced Hollywood rom-com, there is just one deadening plot thread to cope with. The imaginatively titled Valentine's Day has (I think) 13 such tiresome plot threads you can roll your eyes at. Which basically means everybody in the rom-com business is somehow in this film, ranging from Julia Roberts to Ashton Kutcher.
It doesn't have a cast so much as it has a gaggle of over-eager actors and actresses trying their best to be unexplainably insipid, impossibly beautiful, and overwhelmingly rich, white, and hip. The movie, too, is as fake as each of those characters, celebrating Valentine's Day as a magical day that touches everyone and leaves their lives enriched and meaningful.
The film externalizes what the day means to people, all hearts and love and larger meanings of love, whereas all we need is a film that internalizes love, what it means to be in it, what it means to be love someone. Love, here, sorry to say ladies, is superficial. It doesn't matter, it is automatic, and you either buy it the moment you see these couples trying to drift towards (or away) from each other, or you don't.
There isn't any magic here; there isn't even the semblance of film, really. All that there is, is a flustered director trying his best to ensure that all these 20+ major actors get enough face time to register in our minds, and, more importantly, so that their heavily litigious contract lawyers cannot complain.
Richard Curtis' oft middling and oft surprising Love, Actually
had much of the same weight of characters, but the important distinction of being a British film saved it. A closer knit community of actors, the propensity to hire talent over faces, and a smart scriptwriter (instead of the person who wrote straight-to-video sequels to shamelessly wish fulfilling fantasy rom-com capers) saved it.
What saves this movie is how much goodwill you have left for one or many of the leads in the film. I could single out Jessica Biel and the ever radiant Julia Roberts as the only ones I took a shine to, but your mileage may vary depending on how many awful films of the burgeoning cast you have sustained.
There is a fair bit of variety in the stories, too - wedding/marriage related difficulties and questions, airplane chit-chats and teen hormones all play a major role, but if you asked me to unravel any thread singly, I really couldn't. There is so much time forcibly dedicated to telling us how all these characters are also linked to each other, that I remember the inevitable cuts to dog expressions more.
It's not a film that fosters any sort of goodwill about the actors or the director, but it isn't offensive or purposefully stupid, which is at least better than a lot of romantic comedies you have seen in the last year. I say all this in the interest of absolute fairness: if you absolutely must watch it, it isn't going to bore a hole in your skull, so at least there's that.