It's a great marketing ploy to have this released over the Valentine's Day weekend, and more so with that extra number of holidays thanks to Lunar New Year to ensure the halls are packed with couples planning a night's out with a movie. And what better way than for a romantic flick with dozens of eye candy cast, each playing characters with various love issues (or not) to tackle, and basically deliver a crowd pleasing romantic-comedy to top the box office in receipts.
I was thinking whether having a not-so-easy-on-the-eye cast will have as positive an impact though. Given the names in the cast list, if I have to rattle off, tell me who's not “hot” - Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner (I was comparing who had the better toned biceps,, and Biel is the undisputed winner), Anne Hathaway, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift, or if you swing the other way, then feast your eyes on Ashton Kutcher, Patrick Demsey, Topher Grace, Bradley Cooper, and the list goes on, covering the entire spectrum from kids to the elderly, ensuring that there's something for everyone, with all kinds of narrative threads from first love to mature ones, from heart-breaking moments (hey, not all V-days stories end on a happy note, you know?) to reaffirmation of best friendships and family too, which I'm sure the former would be missed out by a lot of folks focused only on the romance.
An ensemble cast also means a rather mixed treatment in the stories told, with some given short shrift and being nothing more than just a lightweight filler segment in between other tales, and mostly centered primarily around Ashton Kutcher's floral shop owner who sells flowers at 55 bucks per pop (what the!), since it's one of those staple items that the day has to revolve around, and provides a convenient platform to weave that web of relationships between characters. And if you dread your mind going into overdrive to figure out who's related to who and what's what, don't fret as the filmmakers had done a decent job in keeping things under wraps until the right moment to show and tell, which to a certain extent, worked wonders for some “voila!”moments to be revealed.
In some ways this can be viewed more like a Los Angeles, I Love You with an ode to the city of angels, given the landmarks that sneak in, and the landscape backdrops especially with the pick up shots for continuity between narratives, although everything here happens within a span of about 17 hours from morning till midnight, and I mean everything, such as realizing who your one true love is, suddenly, within hours of an emotional flip-flop even. If it is only that simple. As mentioned there are some touching moments in the film, but these are few and far between, and in my opinion, didn't evoke as much feelings or move as much as I would have preferred it to, with even “lessons learnt” being terribly sterile and straightforward.
Surprisingly, I felt that the film had a lot of negativity going for it, given that it's supposed to be a film that celebrates love, with a title like that. Like in real life, not everything turns out happy or the way we would like it to be. Deceit turns out to be the name of the game, and hesitation for honesty and and lack of frankness being very much some of the tools here, given that hurt, though temporary, is easy to bring upon. It's as if to say that honesty is not the best policy, and that ignorance may be bliss. If there's one takeaway from the film, it's that love blinds us all to the not-so-good traits of someone which of course should be accepted wholly, but it is almost always up to the people around who can sense some warning signs that things aren't going too well, and should knock some sense back to a lovestruck friend to cut short the suffering and misery, especially if you've found out some deep, dark and dirty secret. I may be wrong of course since I'm sitting on the other (single) side of the fence, but hey, it's just a personal takeaway.
I suppose with the film's success, we'll likely see more of such ensemble films for commercial festivities such as this one, with a ready market to milk. In previous years there had been Love Actually, He's Just Not That Into You, and I'd like to bet that there are already plans for something similar next year. A clear winner as a date movie, but with a runtime of slightly over two hours because of a bloated story that can do away with some subplots. Sit through when the end credits start to roll for some blooper reels, and an inconsequential coda at the end.