Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 7:54 pm | Fair 54º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Valentine’s Day’

Love is complex — unlike this film, which lacks depth and insight

2 Stars — Entertaining

Watching the star-filled cast of Garry Marshall’s Valentine’s Day is the most enjoyable part of the film. Having directed several of these stars in such films as Pretty Woman and Princess Diaries, Marshall’s whimsical style takes another form as he weaves together a tapestry of love stories.

However, with his attempt to combine so many lives, the depth is missing, and the love stories end up feeling more cliché than insightful.

The ensemble cast is centered on florist Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher). Having fallen for Morley Clarkson (Jessica Alba), Reed remembers his father’s counsel that “if he is ever with a girl that is too good for him, he should marry her.” Early in the morning of Valentine’s Day, he places a ring on her finger — an act that begins a romantic domino effect that includes all the joys and sorrows created by love relationships.

Blending stars of the small and large screens, the film boasts Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Taylor Swift, Julia Roberts and many more.

In the story of their intertwined love lives, there is young love, love betrayed, love unrecognized, love rejected, parental love and love fulfilled.

The central moral message is that committed love must accept the other unconditionally and forgive when necessary. But there are many other moral issues explored — from accepting a girlfriend who moonlights as an adult phone entertainer to the confession of an affair that happened years earlier to the decision to abstain from high school sex.

Trying to be everything to everyone reduces the film to simple entertainment. As a Valentine’s Day date film, it fills the bill — but there is little more of value to the film.


» The statement by the husband who hears the confession of his wife to an affair years earlier responds to her claim that she needed to tell the truth by saying that “such truth makes everything else feel like a lie.” Have you experienced betrayal? In what ways did it change everything else about the relationship?

» People often don’t recognize that best friends make the best romantic relationships. Do you think this is true? Why or why not?

» Having viewed the various forms of love presented here, which couple do you think would be together years from now? Why?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit

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