Manuel Betancourt

Happy Valentine’s Day, or How let’s break it down by actors

February 16, 2010 · in Film

There’s no way to really review Valentine’s Day (C) other than to say that it’s the American long lost dopey mopey American cousin to the (far oh so very far) superior Love, Actually, with even less narrative structure and character development. But let’s face it, you didn’t really come to this movie for its character arcs or even for its plot. You watch movies like Valentine’s Day because of its cast, so… what better way to “review” this movie than to examine its players?
Listed from worst (“What the hell? Get him/her off my screen NOW!”) to best (“What would I have done with this movie without you?!”)
 
Taylor Lautner
Okay, I get it. He’s hot. He’s ripped. But why is Taylor Lautner such a boring actor? (And why is this a trend with those effing Twilight boys?). No chemistry, no on-screen persona, no timing, no nothing. Waste of screen space.
George Lopez
There are few things I hate more than “dark-skinned token sidekicks.” And really, that’s all Lopez is here. That and the center of a couple of really unfunny bits.
Patrick Dempsey

Oh McDreamy. Go back to Grey’s. And stop playing doctors. That said, if you wanna keep playing jerks, that’s fine by me. It makes it easier for me to hate your on-screen persona.
Jamie Foxx
I can’t stand Jamie Foxx. Don’t know what it is. So me disliking him (and his lame ass storyline – Sports Anchor hates Valentine’s Day, falls for a publicist…snooze) this came as no surprise even as the film tried hard to make him lovable.
Taylor Swift
I’ll admit it: I enjoyed Taylor Swift on SNL. But I’ll also admit that here, she’s useless. Also, seeing her trying to be “funny” next to Jen Garner in close quarters (an elevator) only exacerbated her inadequacy and lack of comedic timing (on the other hand, Jen did wonders with just a cellphone as a prop).
Jessica Alba
I have decided something upon watching Ms Alba in this: I don’t want to watch her on screen again until she dyes her hair back to a darker tone. Seriously, how is this the same girl who knocked my socks off in Dark Angel? I blame the hair colour, so Jessica, if you’re taking notes: dye it back! And contact the guy who gave you your break, I hear he’s doing pretty good for himself with that blue people movie of his.
Eric Dane
Okay, so his storyline is a wee bit interesting to see on screen in a big Hollywood ensemble romantic comedy, but other than some gratuitous shirtless scenes, he has little to do (He’s a football player whose career is about to “change!”). Thankfully, he’s in great shape so I wasn’t complaining.
Kathy Bates
Oh Kathy, if you knew it was such a throwaway role, why’d you take it? Seriously, she has like…2 lines. None of which are particularly good or funny.
Queen Latifah
Ms Latifah clearly just cashed her cheque. She has little to do and she does even less with it (except for a couple of bloopers at the end). Good thing she has great on-screen chemistry with the camera (because of course she gets an off-screen “lover”).
Hector Elizondo
Playing Shirley MacLaine’s husband can’t be that hard – she’s lovely! She wears crazy outfits! She’s an actress! (Actually that scene in the cemetery is pretty hysterical). Reliable and adequate – nothing to write home about.
Jessica Biel
Oh Ms Biel, at least here you seem more at home than in our sojourns into “costume drama.” Neurosis suits you, even if you can do very little with it in the storyline given to you (she finds love while hosting her anti-V Day party in the unlikeliest of Oscar winners!)
Ashton Kutcher
I’ll say this now: I hate Kelso. And Ashton has done nothing to dispel that persona enough for me to take him seriously as an actor. But here (Ms Garner does wonders for her co-stars, I guess) he’s adequate enough as a fumbling romantic. He’s dopey enough to be annoying but not annoying enough to be grating.
Bradley Cooper
Oh Bradley! You’re so dreamy (yes, my love for Alias and its alums continues!). His scenes with Julia are great and the reveal at the end (take note gay blogs: there’s a REASON /other/ than homophobia for keeping Bradley’s storyline under wraps!) is just lovely (take note gay blogs: maybe take issue with the fact that the reveal only goes so far: where’s the gay PDA?).
Emma Roberts
It must be in the blood: in one of the more touching romantic storylines (revolving around teenage premarital sex), Roberts (and her hunky co-star) hit all the right notes (take notes Taylors!) – at once awkward but also sweet.
Topher Grace
Okay, when did Topher Grace get hot and why did no one tell me? He was so gangly and dorky and adorably awkward in That 70s Show I was a bit disconcerted (albeit pleasantly surprised) when I saw him shirtless in this. Damn. He’s proven before he can act (P.S., In Good Company) so that and his chemistry with Anne help in fleshing out a nicely drawn out storyline (can he date a girl who does something questionable for a living?).
Shirley MacLaine
At this point, Ms McLaine can do this role in her sleep. But why should we hold that against her? She’s great as a wife with a past secret that will test her long marriage (and in turn serve as a “teaching moment” to one of the younger couples). So much learning always happens in these movies!: “We must love everything about the other person… love them wholly!”
Anne Hathaway
It’s no overstatement to say that Anne Hathaway has grown into one of the most charming of actresses out there, right? Here she gets a chance to go “dirtier” than usual (she moonlights as a phone adult entertainer) which works very well as it disrupts our vision of “Annie” as “that girl from the Princess Diaries” without needing her to play a privileged brat going to her sister’s wedding. Her and Topher have great chemistry and offer one of the more interesting plot lines the film has to offer.
Bonus points: all her accents and her creative use of office props for her phone calls.
Jennifer Garner
I’ve loved Ms Garner since her Alias days, and to this day I think she is one of the most charismatic actresses out there. That she can pull off Sidney Bristow as well as carry a film like 13 Going on 30 should still wow you, even if you’re not a fan. In a storyline that mirrors a gazillion rom-coms out there (best friends find out they love each other, after finding out she’s been dating a jerk), her smile and star-quality make her character vulnerable, funny and real.
Bonus points: Her scene at the restaurant (and then her scene with the piñata) were master-classes in comedy acting.
Julia Roberts
Okay, it’s no surprise Julia tops my list, right? But seriously Ms Roberts does in six minutes what half of this cast wishes they could accomplish in an entire film. She’s funny, she’s effortless… yes, she’s Julia Roberts but it’s genuine and in a sea of thankless plots, she’s always a breath of fresh air.
Bonus points: she was the only actor in this film to make me shed a tear (hers is the story that while seemingly trite and what is apparently a glorified cameo ends up having the most gravitas)