I can’t bring myself to see the usual glut of Oscar’s lousy, gloomy Best Picture contenders. One unfortunate exception is Up in the Air, another boring movie about traditionalism by way of monotonous speeches about nothing urging us to be mediocre and conservative. Consciously or not, that is the common theme of today’s most sought-after young filmmakers, such as Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad), Todd Phillips (Old School, The Hangover), and Up in the Air‘s director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking), who generally make bland or putrid movies that exist to preach tradition for the sake of tradition. Toss Up in the Air into that category; it is as bereft of meaning as its title and that is exactly its point.
Garry Marshall’s formulaic love letter to Los Angeles, Valentine’s Day, is silly, predictable mush. In other words, it is a welcome escape from the trash. With an all-star cast, fun, catchy songs, and stories that relate to everyone in vignettes strung together by dual romances (Ashton Kutcher/Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner/Patrick Dempsey), Valentine’s Day happily celebrates being in love with life; work, husbands, wives, lovers, children, pets, sunny days, bright flowers, and the movies. Kutcher steals every scene in this extended version of ABC’s TV series Love American Style, which Mr. Marshall occasionally wrote. Go see it, cringe at the bad jokes and casting (Julia Roberts as a soldier is ridiculous), and have a good time. Bring a loved one.
Opening this weekend: Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, which I was not looking forward to seeing (I’m not an admirer of director Tim Burton’s movies). I was pleasantly surprised. Read my review here.