Sunday, 21 February 2010
It's a rule of entertainment: first genres become popular, then they become formulaic, then they go out of style. Judging by Valentine's Day, the long, long reign of the romantic comedy is set to come to an end. What it looks like is what it is: an American version of Love, Actually, only set over the course of a single day (no prizes for guessing what day that is). But where the often sickening Love, Actually would occasionally throw in an unexpected storyline (the nude extras or Bill Nighy in the role that revived his career) or interesting twist (Alan Rickman cheating on Emma Thompson), this is mostly charmless and totally predictable right down the line.
If characters are single, who'll they'll pair off with is obvious from the first time they meet; if characters are lying or unsure about love, it's clear early on so their partners can move on; if you're a cute little kid wanting to give flowers to someone at your school, the least surprising twist is the one to expect, and so on. If the existence of gay men is a surprise to you the you might be mildly shocked with one or two of the developments here and the dim-witted teens played by Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner are pretty funny (the Twilight star gets the best line of the film: "I'm not used to taking my shirt off in public"), but otherwise this is just a delivery system for a collection of romantic cliches most greeting card companies wouldn't touch these days.
It's actually depressing to realise that with close to a dozen storylines here not one contains anything approaching a fresh insight into romance or relationships - but realistically, if you're planning to see this you almost certainly don't care. But be warned: you're going to owe your boyfriend big time after this.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #474)