Short Cuts meets Magnolia meets Love Actually in this surprisingly pleasant, briskly paced romantic comedy that's bursting out of the box of chocolates with nineteen – count 'em down – A-list stars.
And while much like Love Actually, we do suffer from some repetition and weaker plots that should've been discarded or inserted in a different storyline to augment the rest, overall, I have to say that it's Garry Marshall's strongest work since 2004's weak but entertaining Raising Helen.
While on a rainy Saturday evening in, I'll still grab Love Actually before Valentine's Day, overall I was delighted to see the way that Katherine Fugate's screenplay confronted classic rom-com cliches about secrets, lies, affairs, running to the airport, mixed messages and more rather than trying to reinvent the wheel to therefore instead invite us to embrace the universality of love stories.
Cleverly, she tackles the familiar set-ups of two strangers who meet on an airplane (Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper) and two best friends who are in love with others (Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner) and leads them through some interesting mazes that cover territory both familiar yet somehow when pieced together in juxtaposition with some out-of-left-field plots, seem refreshingly new.
Although her plot is unfortunately one of the weakest in the film, Marshall's Princess Diaries star Anne Hathaway nearly steals the movie away from both the under-used Jessicas (Alba and Biel respectively), Taylors (Lautner and Swift), Jamie (Fox), and the Queen (Latifah) every time she launches into a brand new accent as a phone sex worker trying to pay off her student loans in between acting and temp gigs.
With Kutcher serving as the figurative heart of the movie as the in-demand florist trusted with the sometimes multiple and messy love lives of his many clients on the busiest delivery day of the year, it's his winning turn alongside Garner that form the strongest plot in the movie as both friends start out the day blissfully happy before suffering a few speedbumps along the way.
And despite the fact that it's easy to guess just whom Julia Roberts is rushing home to see (hint: it has to do with her niece Emma Roberts who's also in the movie) and just exactly what's going to happen when a few characters discover the truth about their loves, getting there is more than half the fun in this unfailingly likable movie you'd have to be a true cynic to loathe.
For, regardless of its flaws and cliches, with nineteen characters, there's bound to be at least one plot that's sure to prove ideally sweet, especially when captured in this flawlessly transferred Warner Brothers Blu-ray disc that loses nothing in the display as Valentine's Day becomes Valentine's Night.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.
Labels: Blu-ray Review