The stars of My Big Fat Greek Wedding return for another sappy romantic comedy. And, if that’s not enough to send you away screaming, then let it be known right here and now that I Hate Valentine’s Day could very well go down in history as one of the worst romantic comedies of all time.
Not only did Nia Vardalos, the writer and lead actress of that Greek Wedding film, decide that she could once again take on the role of both author and actor, but she also chose to become a director as well. As a result, there was no one to whisper “Psst, act!” while this mess was being filmed, and so Nia just stands there, grinning throughout 95% of the film (even when her character is supposed to be upset), and looking akin to a starving, rabid hyena.
The story is just your typical romantic comedy crap. Greg (John Corbett) is a newbie to a Manhattan neighborhood where everyone knows each other. There, he meets a totalitarian florist named Genevieve (Vardalos), who acts as the personal love guru in the area, and who also has a strict "five dates only" rule when it comes to relationships. They date, penetrate, and miscalculate — which leads to both parties discovering that they can’t live without one another. Bah, blah, blah — as I said, it’s just your typical romantic comedy crap.
Honestly, I hold nothing against a writer wanting to create a more “classic” kind of comedy that is similar to the old-fashioned screwball comedies of yesteryear. I adore such films. But trying to recreate the wholesome, innocent, all-ages-admitted cinematic romp in our modern sex- and sin-laden society comes off as implausibly naïve. Now add to that a slew of paint-by-numbers characters and some hokey dialogue that would feel out of place even in an English-dubbed Japanese monster movie. To top it all off, the lead actors (Nia and Corbett, the latter of whom looks like he’s there to pick up a paycheck) are so aggressively benign in their roles that many of the supporting actors (including Jay O. Sanders and Mike Starr, who adds another film to his résumé as a guy who eats a sandwich onscreen) are left with the dirty work.
But my absolute favorite bad thing to harp about in this movie was Nia’s constantly-changing hair color, which goes from red to brown to light brown and back throughout the film (and who did your hair, by the way, girl?).
I don’t know, Nia — maybe one draft of the script just wasn’t enough.
All in all, I Hate Valentine’s Day almost feels like a bad play that was made for the big screen, but fared so poorly with audiences that it was rushed onto home video. Proof of such a theory is evident in the MPI Media/IFC Films DVD. The video presentation is bland at best, with lukewarm colors and a lot of grain to be found in the transfer. Audio-wise, the disc boasts a 5.1 English track for a film that doesn’t really warrant a 5.1 surround sound mix — as such, most of the “audio action” takes place in the front speakers. Subtitles are available in English (SDH) and Spanish, while special features consist of an audio commentary with Vardalos (along with a couple of her financiers) and a trailer.
Unless you’re looking for a film that your partner will unquestionably toss you out of the bedroom for, you’d do well to skip I Hate Valentine’s Day.
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