Valentine's Day

Just because Sunday is February 14th, don't let Cupid suck you into crass commercialism disguised as a romantic comedy. Valentine's Day is a date movie from hell. How did director Garry Marshall persuade a big name cast to stuff themselves into this box of rancid heart-shaped chocolates? I can hear him now on his cell to his Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts: "Look, kid, it's easy money. You don't have to work more than a day or two. There are so many big names in this thing the audience will forget if you suck in it."

Some of us won't. What? You think these overpaid actors did it for theirart. Or, my favorite feeble excuse for selling out, "I want to make people feel good in a feel bad world." Ah, people! There's nothing wrong with lifting spirits, except Valentine's Day has all the heart of a two-dollar-whore. Nothing in this cold-blooded exercise in comic calculation feels human.

Peter Travers reviews Valentine's Day in his weekly video podcast, "At the Movies With Peter Travers."

Some charitable reviewers have compared VD (excuse the crude acronym but itfits) to Love Actually, but that Richard Curtis collection of romantic vignettes actually had some merit (Bill Nighy, bless you). VD, set in Los Angeles so the stars don't have to travel, throws interlocking love stories at us like used Kleenex. And what Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate concoct over two bloated hours has all the freshness of Love Boat repeats on the tube. But, yes indeedy, the stars do come out.

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Besides Roberts, probably kicking herself for turning down two movies (The Blind Side, The Proposal) that put Sandra Bullock on the Oscar map, the cast includes Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo, Queen Latifah, Kathy Bates, Bradley Cooper, Emma Roberts (Julia's niece), two Jessicas (Alba and Biel), two remnants of That 70's Show (Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace), two younglovers both named Taylor (Lautner and Swift), and — can you stand it? — the doctors McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) and McSteamy (Eric Dane) and only one of them goes gay.

Get more news, reviews and interviews from Peter Travers on The Travers Take.

I could tell you who they all play, but remembering would give me a sickmigraine. Will this movie be a hit? Bet on it. Marshall is also prepping a sort of sequel set on New Year's Eve. No holiday will be safe from his touch — Flag Day, Purim. A lot of people think Valentine's Day is an excuse for greedy marketeers to exploit romantic fools for cold cash. Wait till they see this movie. It's worse.