Not long after we posted about the cringe-inducing concept of releasing a movie for women called Valentine's Day on Valentine's day, a tipster sent the entire script to us via email.
As you'll recall, He's Just Not That Into You — aggressively marketed toward women and released right around the advertising-driven fauxliday known as Valentine's Day — made upwards of $94 million. So the executives at New Line decided to milk the conceit — chicks love love, after all — and greenlight another film devised to separate women from their money by slapping some big-name celebs (Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper and Shirley MacLaine) on a story that supposedly tugs at the heart.
On March 11, before I'd read the script for Valentine's Day, I wrote:
I can already guess that one woman, who you think will stay single, will suddenly find a date; one woman, who you think will have a date, will suddenly be single; and one couple will remain together despite going through a dilemma that should tear them apart.
I was right!
Truthfully, VD is not terrible. But: It's not sweepingly epic enough to be truly romantic, and there aren't tons of jokes, so, much like He's Just Not That Into You, it's technically not a romcom. They are similar in that the movie consists of supershort scenes from each of the ensemble cast's day; a device successful in Love, Actually but more shallow and less charming here. The script is written by Katherine Fugate, whose TV credits include Army Wives, and Xena: Warrior Princess.
The entire movie takes place in one day, and follows different people — a teenage girl intent on losing her virginity; a 30something guy who's just proposed; 20-something coworkers who've just hooked up; a still-blissfully-in-love couple in their 70s, among others — and shows what happens to them on the magical day known as Valentine's Day.
Explains one character — the guy who's just gotten engaged: "Today I can be the kind of cheeseball who tells random people at the ATM about it because it's Valentine's Day and people are all about love today." (This statement is uttered while driving in a van, and immediately after, a "road rager" yells, "Will you use your freakin turn signal you freaking pansy?" Hence: "Comedy.")
Other problems: There's a kid whose character seems so similar to the little boy in Love, Actually, that it was distracting. The guy who's just gotten engaged works at a flower shop, where all of the employees underneath him seem to be extremely stereotypical Latino clichés. One character, a reporter, goes around interviewing people about Valentine's Day, and encounters an 18-year-old girl identified in the script only as a "petite round CHOLA." She, naturally, has liquid liner and utters these words:
I was hot like jalapena, sexing him
up whenever he wanted. I would
have done anything for that vato,
but still he whored around.
When I read these words, I cringed. Are there Mexican-American girls in L.A. who talk like this? Maybe. But does Hollywood have to perpetuate this cliché on screen?
It was also pretty depressing to read the successful, single woman in the script say:
I haven't had a date on Valentine's
day in almost 10 years. I mean -
it's mostly by choice. I put all
my energy into this job, into
taking care of my clients - and I
know I don't put myself out there
at all - but still - 10 years.
Isn't that pathetic?
The thing that I hate most about
this day - honestly - is that I'm
embarrassed. I'm embarrassed that
it makes me feel as bad about being
alone as it does.
I mean, the character has a point, and these feelings are valid — but isn't naming your script Valentine's Day and releasing it in time for Valentine's Day — and making it a "romcom" in which everybody has happy endings just compounding the issue? What if Valentine's Day were about a band of single women who tried to take down the commercial holiday through renegade street art and guerilla acts of crafty drugstore terrorism? Hmm?
To its credit, VD has (gasp!) a black character in it. Not just a black person, a BLACK MAN. And unlike HJNTIY, there's a nice range of ages, proving that life after 30 exists. In addition, whichever comic moments seem a little flat on the page may be energized with some great direction and acting.
That said, the script was incredibly predictable — considering I called most of the plot "twists" before I'd even read it. True, this is a draft. Things change. But even more frustrating is the notion that because I'm a woman, this is what I want for Valentine's Day.