All-star cast can't save Valentine's Day

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Never has the importance of opening weekend been more obvious than with the release of this one-day holiday movie, whose success hinges on the idea that women will drag their romance-challenged menfolk to a V-Day comedy. The movie, directed by 75-year-old Garry Marshall (Happy Days, Pretty Woman), is a labored, wheezing affair, with an all-star cast more populous than It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. The idea is a roundelay of L.A.-set relationship stories, but there are so many plots, interchangeable actors (Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher) and people in half-written parts (Queen Latifah as a sports agent, Taylor Swift as a cheerleader, Jessica Biel as, unbelievably, a wallflower) that the result is eye-crossing confusion rather than amusement. The most developed stories have Jennifer Garner as a schoolteacher in love with a caddish doctor (Patrick Dempsey), while her florist pal (Kutcher) secretly yearns for her, and Anne Hathaway as a phone-sex worker whose naughty career repels her straitlaced suitor (Grace). Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine show up as long-married grandparents, and Julia Roberts plays an Army captain who bonds with Bradley Cooper aboard an airplane. Katherine Fugate’s script furnishes too many situations and too few laughs, though the movie gets points for the surprising gay twist in a macho character’s story. **

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