Movies: Valentine's Day * *
(12A, General Release)
All-star ensemble movies in which disparate characters unexpectedly intersect are hard enough to make work when they're straight dramas: add comedy into the mix and you're asking for trouble.
Trouble is pretty much all you get in this sprawling, undisciplined and only intermittently entertaining romantic comedy featuring an all-star cast who must have ended up wondering how they managed to land themselves in a car crash like this.
Still, at least there's Jessica Biel to look at. She's Morley, the busy agent of a star American footballer (Eric Dane) who's about to reveal to the world that he is gay. Morley hates Valentine's Day with a passion and every February 14 hosts a party for like-minded cynics. However, this year her best friend Julia (Jennifer Garner) is going to cry off, because she thinks she has met the perfect man, Dr Harrison Copeland (Patrick Dempsey). Harrison is slick, no question, but he's also married and Julia is in for a big shock.
Julia's best male friend is Reed (Ashton Kutcher), the jovial boss of a Los Angeles flower shop who's about to get his heart broken by his halfhearted fiancée (Jessica Alba). And in yet another subplot, Jason (Topher Grace) is about to find out that his new girlfriend (Anne Hathaway) is a surreptitious phone-sex worker.
You get the picture. The many moods of love are explored by an all-star cast that also includes Jamie Foxx and Shirley MacLaine. And while no one is bad exactly -- Hathaway does very well -- it's all a bit of a shambles in the end. Also, the storyline frequently stretches all credibility -- who, for instance, would buy the notion of a woman as beautiful as Ms Biel sitting all on her own at the back of an Indian restaurant on Valentine's Day?