“Of course I believe in love. It’s the only shocking act left in the world.”
This sentiment, spoken by Aston Kutcher in the recent Hallmark-meets-Hollywood flick “Valentine’s Day” – is one of the best lines of the film. It’s delivered early, giving all of us old-fashioned folk hope that this, finally, will be a rom-com without the “men are pigs and women are crazy” drivel that seems to have infected the genre in recent years.
And indeed, “Valentine’s Day” does give us a refreshingly hopeful view of love – one that doesn’t end with a staged kiss and the latest pop sensation as the credits roll, but love that spans generations, survives storms and (of course) gives butterflies. Sadly, however, the moments that shatter us with sweetness or truth are fewer than I would hope for a film spanning a lengthy 125 minutes. For a film which announced that its only shock value would be that power of real love, it still gives us only a taste of what such a thing might be like, before diving back in to the post-modern, cynical interpretations of love.
It seems impossible to allow even one set of characters give us a perfect picture of marriage these days, a cultural shift that saddens me. While I know that no marriage is flawless and certainly don’t want to choke on a falsely syrupy alternate reality; I wish that Hollywood could imagine (especially in a film that endeavors to tell so many stories), that at least one could be free of large problems or unfaithfulness.
Before someone points out that my wish isn’t based in reality – let me remind you – we’re talking a shamelessly-marketed-to-sappy-girls (myself included) film entitled “Valentine’s Day”. This is chick flick material at it’s most fluffy, and I only wish that Hollywood would give all of us sappy girls credit for actually loving our husbands for real once in a while.
However, criticism aside, it’s definitely a fun girls-night-out movie, filled with hysterical stereotypes (Taylor Swift is a hilariously ditzy Valley Girl, and the little kid buying flowers for “the best girl in class” should inspire a saw-that-one-coming groan, but it’s so cute that we just smile and truck along with the story). It boasts a star-studded cast, and Ashton Kutcher in a role where he’s neither brashly irritating nor trying too hard, an endearing change of pace. (Of course, it is rated PG-13 and includes some sexual innuendos and situations. While Hollywood has gotten some things right lately, they seem to still believe that promiscuity equals romance.)
If you just want a fun, mushy escape this weekend, I’d go see it – but remember that unlike Hollywood’s version, the love that we have to share is truly the only shocking act left in the world.