Making the Grades
Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day comes around every year to remind people about the current state of their love life. And just like in reality, the characters in the movie Valentine’s Day have mixed feelings about the heart-filled holiday.
Preparing for his busiest retail day of the year, Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) owns a flower shop. Before night falls, he and his delivery driver (George Lopez) have a huge number of orders to fill and distribute. But before he leaves for work, he pops the question to his live-in girlfriend Morley Clarkson (Jessica Alba).
Meanwhile his best friend Julia Fitzpatrick (Jennifer Garner) is kissing her doctor boyfriend (Patrick Dempsey) good-bye before he leaves to do surgery in another city. Despite the fact that Julia is in a relationship, her friend Kara Monahan (Jessica Biel), an agent for football star Sean Jackson (Eric Dane), still wants her pal to come to her "I Hate Valentine’s Day" party that night. Kara, who believes she is the loneliest person in Los Angeles, hosts the annual event for all her dateless friends.
From there the cast of loveless, lovelorn and beloved characters grows exponentially. A television reporter (Jamie Foxx) is sent out on the street with a cameraman (Marty Nadler) to gauge people’s feelings about the day. A mailroom clerk (Topher Grace) who has just spent the night with his new girlfriend (Anne Hathaway) discovers she has a rather unconventional side job. And after publically coming out of the closet, one homosexual couple is finally able to pursue their relationship in the open.
An older couple (Hector Elizondo, Shirley MacClaine) is preparing to renew their wedding vows after many years of marriage while their young grandson (Bryce Robinson) is suffering the pangs of his first elementary school crush. On an overseas flight headed to L.A., a businessman (Bradley Cooper) meets an active duty soldier (Julia Roberts) on leave for a quick visit home. Finally, there are two high school couples. One of them, played by musician Taylor Swift and Twilight heartthrob Taylor Lautner (who keeps his shirt on in this film despite his girlfriend’s pleas), displays all the exuberant affection of teen love. He gives her an oversized Teddy Bear that says I love you. She writes his track shirt number on her hand in pen. They also engage in public displays of affection even during running practice. The other couple (Emma Roberts, Carter Jenkins) is planning to give up their virginity in order to consummate their friendship before they part ways for college.
At one point or another in this hurried tale, all these lives intersect—if only briefly. But with so many individuals to juggle and only a 24-hour period in which to help them find or lose love, the story’s development is minimal at best. Still Director Garry Marshall, known for other romantic comedies like The Princess Diaries series, Raising Helen and Runaway Bride, offers some noteworthy depictions of friendship, parental sacrifice, long-term commitment and forgiveness (though in one case it feels a little forced).
Yet while some characters eventually pay for their indiscretions, all too often in this romantic romp lust trumps love and sex becomes the main driver in relationships. And though love is touted as "the only shocking act sill left on the planet", it seems like the real thing is as impossible to find as an affordable bouquet of flowers.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Valentine’s Day.
What impact can parental divorce have on their children’s marriages? Does it affect their own chances for a successful marriage or not?
How does Kara assuage her loneliness? What other substances do people use to deal with their emotions? What safety feature does she fail to make use of while exercising? What might have been the outcome of her choice?
How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Is it only a commercial invention or an opportunity to express affection for loved ones?