LA florist Ashton Kutcher wakes up next to attractive Jessica Alba and proposes to her. But soon she is doing the unthinkable – rejecting him. How could you, Jessica?
Well, it is Valentine’s Day, and Kutcher is selling loads of flowers at his shop in the market – two bouquets of them to the normally nice Patrick Dempsey, whose character Dr Harrison Copeland is a love rat, cheating on his wife, while pledging true love to Kutcher’s best friend, Julia Fitzpatrick (Jennifer Garner).
Meanwhile, sweet Topher Grace can’t understand why his feisty gal Anne Hathaway rushes away and is making lots of peculiar phone calls, Eric Dane’s a sportsman at a crossroads, and on a plane to LA, Bradley Cooper seems to be chatting up Julia Roberts, though it turns out they both have hidden agendas.
Then old Shirley MacLaine suddenly tells her hubby Hector Elizondo that she was once unfaithful to him and Jessica Biel starts getting all steamed up about sports reporter Jamie Foxx, as Taylor Lautner lusts over Taylor Swift (probably because they’ve got the same first name), while Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins want first love on Feb 14.
All will be revealed after a couple of hours in this tastily conceived but wobbly panorama of love’s ups and downs on the big day in LA. The course of true love doesn’t run smooth: although the ensemble cast’s incredibly starry, it doesn’t feel like the right cast. Roberts and Foxx don’t raise smiles or any heat, while attractive Alba and Dempsey are crushed and defeated by their negative roles.
Expert romcom director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries) fumbles the ball repeatedly, especially with some clumsy slapstick comedy, and Katherine Fugate’s screepplay struggles – not, surprisingly, to keep the complicated structure together. However, it succeeds in doing that quite well – but not in coming up with totally funny, truly touching, really romantic dialogue. Too much of it is obvious and contrived, so the film doesn’t flow sweetly and effortlessly amusingly.
Kutcher has the main part. He is an expert at this kind of thing and does it eagerly and with joy – so his story grabs the attention, as does the outcome of Grace’s passion for Hathaway. They are good too.
This being LA, one of the love story’s a gay one, can you guess who the gay characters will turn out to be? It is one of the film’s little surprises. It is interesting that the actors playing the gay characters don’t get to kiss and that Biel’s interracial snog with Foxx is discreetly turned away from camera. Failure of nerve like this is perhaps the film’s main fault.
After it was a hit, it turned out to be first in a trilogy. Garry Marshall followed it up with New Year’s Eve (2011) and Mother’s Day (2016). He died on aged 81.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4333
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