Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher in the star-studded "Valentine's Day," a harmless enough date movie. (Warner Bros.)
Just the sort of scattered collection of sitcom confections one might expect, "Valentine's Day" is a star-sprinkled movie filled with "aww" moments and occasionally funny bits.
It's a date movie that asks you to check your brain at the door and adjust your cliché tolerance meter to high. Then again, most date movies do that.
But most date movies do not have this cast (take a breath) -- Jennifer Garner, Julia Roberts, Emma Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Jessica Alba, Jamie Foxx, Kathy Bates, Shirley Maclaine, Patrick Dempsey, Bradley Cooper, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Queen Latifah, Jessica Biel and Brad Pitt.
OK, Brad Pitt's not in it, but you get the idea. Just about everybody else with an agent is.
Directed by 75-year-old Garry Marshall, the on-off creator of everything from "Happy Days" and "Mork and Mindy" to "Pretty Woman" and "The Princess Diaries" (thus the appearances by Ms. Roberts and Ms. Hathaway), "Valentine's Day" is one of those films that follows the romantic ups and downs of a wide variety of people over the course of one Valentine's Day in Los Angeles (where else?).
If there's a center here it's Kutcher, playing a successful florist who starts the film out by proposing to Alba's character. From there on, most of the storylines involve flowers either coming or going.
There's the little kid (Bryce Robinson) who wants roses delivered to someone during recess. The two-timing doctor (Dempsey) buying roses for both his wife and mistress. The teen girl (Roberts the younger) planning to lose her virginity with roses scattered about the floor.
This being both Los Angeles and a Garry Marshall film, eccentric characters abound: The nice girl (Hathaway) who earns extra money by talking dirty on the phone, the hunky football quarterback (Eric Dane) with a shocking announcement, and the absurdly beautiful, candy-addicted publicist (Biel) who throws an annual I Hate Valentine's Day party.
Marshall, working from a script by Katherine Fugate, lightly tosses all these ingredients together, spices things up with a bit of heartbreak and betrayal balanced by newfound love and long-lasting affection, and arrives at the general conclusion that love is a good thing.
True, not exactly earth-shattering news. But again, who wants earth-shattering news in a date movie?
"Valentine's Day" is sappy and somewhat predictable, and watching it can feel a lot like watching two hours of "Happy Days" reruns minus The Fonz.
But just as in "Happy Days," the players here are all pros -- well, except for Swift, but she's just goony enough to come across as sweet -- the writing and direction are in rhythm and the whole thing is kind of weightless fun.
"Valentine's Day" is a passing nod to love, like a box of chocolates or flowers that soon wilt. It's star-studded amiable fluff with no real value, but it's kind of a tickle if you're in the mood.
And if you're going on a date, you're probably in the mood.