Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx
Directed by: Garry Marshall (“Georgia Rule”)
Written by: Katherine Fugate (“The Prince and Me”)

Doing a shameless impersonation of director/writer Richard Curtis’ 2003 witty and warm romantic comedy “Love Actually,” the Hollywood-star-laden “Valentine’s Day” is a movie that’s all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Flashing an attractive cast of audience favorites including Julia Roberts (“Duplicity”), Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”), and Taylor Lautner (“New Moon”) – among a laundry list of others – director Garry Marshall (“Georgia Rule”) takes a poorly-written multi-narrative penned by Katherine Fugate (“The Prince and Me”) and hauls it through the same cliché and predictable plot points usually reserved for this type of cinematic fluff. It’s no wonder sensitive women everywhere have to drag their significant others to the movies for date night. When a feature is as contrived as “Valentine’s Day,” not even a pajama party with Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, and Jessica Biel is reason enough for anyone to endure over two hours (and yes, it feels like it) of unbearable schmaltz.

Without going into too much detail with the storylines – which all somehow connect in the most absurd ways – “Valentine’s Day” spends much of its runtime with Ashton Kutcher on screen as Reed Bennett, the owner of a popular flower shop in L.A. who has just proposed to his girlfriend Morley (Alba) and is ready to settle down and start a family. But like all these sad-sack characters, love is not in the air for Reed and he is left all alone with only his employee (George Lopez) to help mend his broken heart.

More lovesick vignettes follow that are just as sparse on romance and narrative appeal. Jamie Foxx plays a sportscaster who hates V-Day, but is assigned to produce a story by his boss (Kathy Bates); Biel plays a publicist whose client (Eric Dane) is contemplating retirement from pro-football; Patrick Dempsey flexes his acting range to play a cheating cardiologist having an affair with Garner; Cooper and Roberts play strangers who meet on an airplane and make small talk; Bryce Robinson plays a kid in love; Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins play teens in love; Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway play young adults in love; Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine play old people in love; and Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift dole out so much cuteness, you don’t know how the word “cute” even existed before this movie.

The “aww” moments are aplenty for moviegoers who don’t necessarily care about story, character or genuine heartfelt moments that don’t feel like they were mass produced like overstuffed Build-A-Bears. Like an open box of Walgreen’s chocolates in an office break room, gluttons for this type of cheap, faux-holiday filler will eat it up without much thought. For those who want their rom coms to have a bit more taste, it’s easy to pass on the flavorless eye candy.

Aliens in the Attic

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler, Ashley Tisdale
Directed by: John Schultz (“The Honeymooners”)
Written by: Mark Burton (“Madagascar”) and Adam F. Goldberg (“Fanboys”)

If these are the type of film projects the teens of the “High School Musical” franchise are going to get now that they’ve moved on from the series, things are bound to get uglier before they get better.

While Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens might still be bankable (“17 Again” was cliché drivel for Efron and we still have to see what Hudgens can do with her upcoming film “Bandslam”), an actress like Ashley Tisdale might find it a bit more difficult to earn roles much different that the tween-inspired ones she’s been doing for the last 12 years.

Nevertheless, her first attempt at breaking away from her character Sharpay Evans from the “Musical” movies is in the unimaginative family film “Aliens in the Attic.” In the film, Tisdale plays Bethany, one of the Pearson family clan who discovers their vacation lake house has been infiltrated by a small group of hostile aliens packing heat who want to enslave humans.

During their initial battle with the alien species, Bethany’s brother Tom (Carter Jenkins) and his cousins realize they have the upper hand when the electric plugs the aliens are shooting at them don’t have the same mind-control power on kids as they do on adults. Kids, supposedly, are “wired differently” explains one of the knee-high humans.

From here, we watch the entire Pearson family below the age of 18 try to keep the aliens from getting out of the attic and into the house where they can cause major damage especially since all the vulnerable parents (Kevin Nealon and Andy Richter plays dads; Doris Roberts plays the grandma) are downstairs (apparently wearing earplugs since no one ever hears the ruckus on the second and third floors).

Relying on generic-looking computer graphics, kids and aliens battle it out with fireworks and paintball guns for 86 minutes of boredom. Screenwriters Mark Burton (“Madagascar”) and Adam F. Goldberg (“Fanboys”) even fail at bringing a human element into the story by having the youngest of the Pearson children (Ashley Boettcher) befriending the one alien invader (she names him Snugglelumps) who seems to be a pacifist. Overall, it’s one the worst family films of the year.