Valentine’s Day (2010)

(Netflix Streaming, April 2016) I am an absurdly forgiving reviewer when it comes to romantic comedies, so when I report some amount of enjoyment from Valentine’s Day, don’t necessarily assume that I’m in my right mind. A large ensemble comedy set in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day, this film crams a dozen 10-minute short stories together, with tenuous links between the various strands of the story. You can watch the film just for the pleasure of seeing two dozen name actors having fun in a frothy feel-good romantic film, spouting various bon mots about love and occasionally hamming it up. (Jamie Foxx gets a turn signing at the piano, for instance.) Or you can watch it for the thrill of seeing couples meeting up, breaking up and making up. Bargain-level symbolism abound, but there is something faintly clever in making much of the story revolve around a flower shop on February 14. There are a few cute touches for those who consider Hollywood actors part of their extended family (Anne Hathaway plays a phone-sex operator; Taylor Swift makes her big-screen debut; Shirley McClaine appears twice in the same frame in roles decades removed) and the film zips easily through the various areas of Los Angeles. Director Rob Marshall keeps every plate spinning with ease, and Valentine’s Day unspools easily as long as we’re ready to play along. In terms of ensemble romance, it’s nowhere near the much-superior Love Actually, but it’s sweet and sympathetic enough to be forgiven. Your opinion is likely to vary depending on your tolerance for such movies. Also see (or not) the similar New Year’s Eve and the upcoming Mother’s Day.

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