Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valentine's Day

"Love, American Style: The Movie"

A movie top-heavy with stars given a limited time-frame in a limited locale (Los Angeles) where lives intersect and the sub-strata of conflicts are put to the test through the separation of instincts and rational thought.

No, that was "
Crash." But the set-up is the same with less fighting and more clinches. Call it "Squish."

Or better yet, "Smoosh."

This is
"Valentine's Day" directed by Garry Marshall, whose television career took him from "Love, American Style" through the "Happy Days" Dynasty (or as it's referred, "ABC-TV during the '80's") and into motion pictures, which were usually light comedies. This is a light comedy, too, but with several intersecting stories cross-populated by the stars guesting in other people's stories other than their own, with interstitial vignettes of a comical nature inserted at various places, especially if the ad-libbing gets a little dicey for the editor's sake.

By God, it is "Love, American Style."

The cast is...amazing, frankly. So much so that a superb actor like
Joe Mantegna has a mere cameo of a few seconds (as does the director). Probably just as well, this isn't Mamet material. But there's Alba and Garner and Hathaway and Biel and Roberts and Latifah for the guys. For the girls, there's Dempsey and Dane and Cooper and Foxx and Grace and Kutcher (if L,AS had lasted four more seasons all of these kids would have been on it!). For the oldsters there's George Lopez and Hector Elizondo (he's a requirement of all Garry Marshall movies) and Shirley MacLaine—the one moment I couldn't resist was MacLaine playing a love scene in front of her own projected image (The movie is 1958's "Hot Spell"). For the kids, there's Taylors Swift and Lautner, who are both charming and she has a fine comedienne's willingness to make herself look foolish.

It's frothy as a watered down meringue, but with the occasional sour lemon bite that keeps it from getting too sticky and could lead to puckering...the good kind. Suffice it to say that everything ties up nicely, with a couple of mild surprises along the way. It is supposed to be cute, and all the actors have the presence to dance around the material with their own peculiar rhythms to make it seem fresher than it is, if not better than it is.

"Valentine's Day" is a Cable-Watcher.

No comments: