That thought kept running through my brain over-and-over while watching all 117 excruciating minutes of this god-awful film that will end up earning $66-million over the four-day holiday. I don’t care. It could make $66-billion and it would still be one of the biggest disappointments that’s hit the theaters in the last 25 years. If you haven’t seen it, please don’t. It will only encourage them to do this to us again.
It’s just tone-deaf. Even though Katherine Fugate gets the screenwriting credit and must share the blame, watching the film’s directing choices leads to the strong conclusion that director Garry Marshall is mostly responsible. I’m betting he came up with or forced Fugate to put in some of the film’s most hideous moments. It’s his out-of-touch sensibility that infuses every frame with such a stunning lack of authenticity. Some people say the structure and even some of the details try to rip off “Love Actually” but this film should be so lucky as to have stolen something from Richard Curtis’s masterpiece.
Garry Marshall has clearly not advanced with the times. He’s making films with the subtlety of “Happy Days.” He has approached this material not as someone trying to find some truth about romance and put it on film but as Aaron Spelling might have, with the depth of a “Love Boat” episode. Marshall has managed to make a film that’s as stunningly bad as his previous ultra-bomb “Exit To Eden.” He probably thought he was being clever including storylines like phone sex but they’re handled so stupidly and so sit-com like that they only hang a lantern on what’s so very wrong with this film.
Worse, he is about to be rewarded for his atrocious mis-fire. Because “Valentine’s Day” was released over a long weekend where millions upon millions of date nights were being arranged, it was practically guaranteed to have a huge audience, partly because of its title and partly because of its massive cast of major stars. I’m sure they love Garry Marshall, but not a single one of them was rewarded by this experience. Rarely have I seen so many major actors be so bad at the same time.
If you want a truly entertaining dissection of many of this film’s major crimes, please check out my fellow editor (and Rom-Com Queen) Sherry Coben’s Smackdown. She nails it as the boring, cliched, not-funny, alternative universe rom-com that it is.
There are probably a lot of people in Hollywood (Marshall included) who will delude themselves that the box office is all that matters and that the critics are the ones who are out-of-touch. Sometimes that actually is true. But not this time. Any lover of film, anyone who has wept and laughed in the same romantic comedy, any rational person — they all know that this film is junk that somehow got through the system. The bigger question is how did something this bad and wrong-headed get past so many layers that exist in the studio system to allow its release in its current inept form? I’d like to see an investigative reporter check that one out, but it’ll never happen. We’ll just move on to the next.
Now there’s talk (and probably a certainty) that they will let Marshall make “New Year’s Eve” which will be the same kind of film — lots of stars, corny dialogue, nothing true to say.
I won’t go to it. Garry Marshall has made a few fine films that I’ve more or less enjoyed. But he’s broken the faith with me on this one. I’m done. Goodbye, Garry.